Israel partially withdraws from Gaza after ‘listening’ to US – Politico
Israel’s withdrawal of troops from Gaza indicates that it is “listening” to Washington, which has long urged West Jerusalem to shift to low-intensity military operations, Politico reported Wednesday.
It comes after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced last weekend that it would withdraw five brigades from combat in Gaza, comprising thousands of soldiers.
The IDF’s decision to reduce its troop presence in the Palestinian enclave is seen as “a signal that Israel is beginning to finally shift away from large-scale bombing and more toward targeted, surgical strikes on senior Hamas leaders,” as Washington has repeatedly urged, amid a rising civilian death toll among Gazans, Politico reported, citing unnamed US officials.
“What we’re seeing is the beginning of a transition,” one official said, while another added that Washington was “pleased to see the shift” but wished it had happened much sooner, according to the outlet.
The killing of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri by a drone attack in a suburb of Beirut on Tuesday could be “another sign Israel is ready to shift to more surgical operations,” Politico’s source said.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati called the killing of Arouri “a new Israeli crime aimed at inevitably dragging Lebanon into a new phase of confrontation.”
In response, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, said that “whoever did this strike was very surgical and went for a Hamas target because Israel is at war,” without confirming or denying the IDF’s involvement.
In mid-December, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan recalled that Washington has repeatedly urged Israel to shift its high-tempo military operation in Gaza to a “lower-intensity, surgical, focused, targeted campaign.” He added that once this phase is activated, there will be no sanctuary for Hamas leaders, as Israel has the right to go after those who planned and executed the October 7 attacks.
The Palestinian military group attacked Israel from Gaza on that date in 2023, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages, according to Israeli estimates. In response, West Jerusalem declared war and launched an air and ground offensive in Gaza to root out Hamas, resulting in more than 22,000 casualties among the enclave’s residents, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.