- January 22nd, 2009
- Posted by Daniel Challis
The last of Israeli forces left the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning (21.01.09) and returned to Israel after more than three weeks fighting Hamas militants.
Israeli troops will now wait just outside the border and spy-planes will continue to fly over Gaza in case of any resurgence of further trouble.
CEASEFIRE LEADS TO WITHDRAWAL
Israel said it had completed a full troop withdrawal on Wednesday, though navy vessels continued to fire sporadically at Gazaâ€™s beaches from the Mediterranean.
The withdrawal was initiated after Israel and Hamas separately declared ceasefires on Sunday (18.01.09).
It has come at a high cost with more than 1300 Palestinians dead, as many as one-third being children; 13 Israelis, including ten soldiers, have also died.
Over the course of the offensive, Israelâ€™s campaign to stop Hamas rocket attacks on its territory, its forces attacked Hamas by land, air and sea.
EUROPE OFFERS SUPPORT
The EU presidency welcomed the announcement by Israel to cease their military activities in Gaza and called for humanitarian assistance to â€œhelp alleviate the suffering of Gazaâ€™s population.â€
â€œThe priority now is to ensure that no more civilians die as a result of this conflict,â€ the EU presidency said in a statement.
The statement also read that the EU is prepared to help establish an independent and viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace.
The Bureau of Congress of the Council of Europe also welcomed the ceasefire but said the Gaza population had been affected by â€œextreme military violenceâ€.
â€œIt (the Bureau) condemns the excessive use of force by the Israeli army and the blatant disregard for the civilian population caught in the fighting,â€ it said in a press release.
UN OFFERS HUMANITARIAN AID
United Nations Relief and Works Agency Director John Ging said on Tuesday (20.01.09) at a press conference that a dignified existence needed to be restored for the people of Gaza and perpetrators of the destruction needed to be held accountable.
â€œEverybody here on the ground is struggling to cope with what they have just come through, but there has to be a perspective which is hopeful, that we are moving forward and that the price that [ordinary people] have paid in terms of death, injury and destruction — that out of that will be a better future, â€ he said.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to visit Gaza in the coming week to offer humanitarian assistance and help with a long-term recovery and reconstruction plan for the people of Gaza.
Council of Europe, â€˜Situation in Gaza: Congress Bureau calls for greater involvement of local authorities in peace effortsâ€™ (20.01.09), https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=PR048(2009)&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&Site=DC&BackColorInternet=F5CA75&BackColorIntranet=F5CA75&BackColorLogged=A9BACE, (22.01.09).
Czech Presidency of the European Union, â€˜EU Presidency Statement on Israel’s Announcement of a Temporary Ceasefire in Gazaâ€™ (18.01.09), http://www.eu2009.cz/en/news-and-documents/cfsp-statements/eu-presidency-statement-6547/, (22.01.09).
Ethan Bronner, International Herald Tribune, â€˜Israel withdraws from Gazaâ€™ (21.01.09), http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/21/mideast/mideast.1-412620.php, (22.01.09).
United Nations Secretary General, â€˜Secretary-General stresses importance of full Israeli withdrawal from Gazaâ€¦â€™ (20.01.09), http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2009/sgsm12054.doc.htm, (22.01.09).
United Nations Organisation, â€˜Press Conference on Gaza Humanitarian Situationâ€™ (20.01.09), http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2009/090120_Gaza.doc.htm, (22.01.09).
Israel Defence Forces, â€˜Last IDF Soldiers Leave the Gaza Stripâ€™ (21.01.09), http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/Announcements/09/01/2101.htm, (22.01.09).