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Israel is pulling some troops from southern Gaza. Now the plan is to clear Hamas from Rafah

JERUSALEM - Israel's military announced Sunday it had withdrawn its forces from the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, wrapping up a key phase in its ground offensive against the Hamas militant group and bringing its troop presence in the territory to one of the lowest levels since the six-month war began.

But defense officials said troops were merely regrouping as the army prepares to move into Hamas' last stronghold, Rafah. ''The war in Gaza continues, and we are far from stopping,'' said the military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi.

Local broadcaster Channel 13 TV reported that Israel was preparing to begin evacuating Rafah within one week and the process could take several months.


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