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Israel withdraws forces deployed near Gaza

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinians during the Great March of Return on 9 February 2019 [MAHMUD HAMS/AFP / Getty]
Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinians during the Great March of Return on 9 February 2019 [MAHMUD HAMS/AFP / Getty]

Israel yesterday withdrew the military forces it had deployed around the Gaza Strip, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

The Arabic paper said Israel’s Channel 12 revealed that the decision was made after a military evaluation of the current situation in Gaza was carried out. The forces will now return to their bases and resume training to “be ready for any emergency”.

“The Israeli army is still prepared very well for any emergency,” an army spokesperson said.

Israel had deployed reinforcements along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone ahead of the one year anniversary of the Palestinian Great March of return which was due to take place on 30 March.

READ: Gazans flock to Israel buffer zone for 53rd weekly demo

Since Palestinians began holding regular rallies along the buffer zone on March 30 of last year, more than 250 demonstrators have been killed by Israeli army gunfire.

In a report released last month, the UN said that Israeli aggression against Gazan protesters over the course of the last year — including the intentional targeting of unarmed demonstrators — could be viewed as a “war crime”.

Demonstrators demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

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