Israel pulls troops out of Gaza

Israel has announced the withdrawal of all of its troops to “defensive positions” outside the Gaza Strip.

The move came moments before the latest truce – brokered by Egyptian mediators late on Monday – came into force at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

Israel claims the main aim of the conflict – to destroy militants’ tunnels – has been achieved.

Gaza officials say the four-week conflict has killed 1,800 Palestinians. Some 67 Israelis have also died.

“The Israel Defence Forces will be redeployed in defensive positions outside the Gaza Strip and we will maintain those defensive positions,” Israeli military spokesman Lt-Col Peter Lerner said.

Just minutes before the truce came into effect, air raid sirens sounded in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as Hamas militants fired a barrage of rockets at central Israel. Israeli forces also staged raids in Gaza shortly before the ceasefire began.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks and destroying tunnels used by Palestinian militants.

In a statement just ahead of the withdrawal, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that since then it had taken out 32 tunnels designed to allow militants to carry out raids into Israel, destroyed 3,000 missiles on the ground and killed about 900 “terrorists”.

The IDF estimated that some 3,300 rockets had been fired at Israel during this period, and that Hamas had another 3,000 rockets left for future use.

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