Israel pulls more troops out of Gaza, truce on


Tel Aviv/Gaza City : A fragile ceasefire in Gaza held for a second night as Israel withdrew more troops and was expected to complete its pullout by Tuesday afternoon.

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No rockets landed in Israel during the night and Israel carried out no retaliatory attacks, a military spokesman in Tel Aviv said, saying the last rocket was fired from Gaza at around 5 p.m. (1500 GMT) Sunday.

“We are continuing with the gradual withdrawal,” the spokesman said, noting that some forces still remained in the strip. If the truce holds, Israel may finalise the pullout by the inauguration of US president-elect Barack Obama.

Most reserve soldiers called up for the three-week campaign in Gaza, aimed at curbing rocket and mortar attacks from the strip, were expected to be released Tuesday.

The Israel Defence Forces also began investigating the incidents of Operation “Cast Lead,” including those in which civilian families were killed.

Palestinian rescue teams uncovered more bodies from underneath the rubble in Gaza also Monday, bringing the death toll in the Israeli offensive to at least 1,310, some 40 percent of them women and minors.

The actual civilian toll is likely higher, as health officials have been unable to say how many of the adult men were fighters.

More than 5,500 people have been injured, about half of them women and children. Some 100,000 Gazans are said to have fled their homes.

Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were also killed and dozens injured in the ground fighting and in rocket attacks.