Israeli army scales back forces from Gaza; air strike kills 10 in UN-run school

The Israeli army announced Sunday that it had withdrawn most of its troops from Gaza, although no official announcement has been issued to end the 29-day Operation Protective Edge.

According to Haaretz, Israeli forces that remain in Gaza are working on destroying one more tunnel near Rafah, while other units are operating in Beit Hanoun. The IDF has decided to keep some forces within Gaza to protect Israeli communities near the border.

The decision comes hours after the IDF declared the death of Hadar Goldin, an Israeli lieutenant who was previously believed to have been captured by Hamas militants on Friday. According to a senior Israeli officer, the military made the decision based on evidence found on the battlefield in Rafah.

Goldin’s death brings the number of IDF fatalities to 64.

A child surveys the destruction in Beit Lahiya, Gaza. (photo: Anne Paq/
A child surveys the destruction in Beit Lahiya, Gaza. (photo: Anne Paq/

The withdrawal comes on the heels of an attack on a UN-run school in the Strip, which killed at least 10 Palestinians. According to medics, the school housed Gaza residents displaced by the current operation. Gaza health officials said 30 Palestinians had died by noon on Sunday, including in an attack on a house in Rafah that killed four.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the Palestinian death toll has passed 1,700, including about 400 children. At least 9,000 have been wounded.

Meanwhile, Palestinian militants continued to fire rockets into Israel, with 13 rockets and mortar shells fired so far on Sunday.

A delegation from Hamas and Islamic Jihad arrived in Cairo Sunday for indirect ceasefire talks with Israel, which are to be conducted through Egyptian and U.S. officials. The talks, should they take off, would include Hamas’ demand that Egypt ease movement across its border with blockaded Gaza. Israel rebuffed the invitation to the ceasefire talks on Saturday, saying that it would not send its envoy to Cairo. 

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