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IDF spokesman: No concrete timetable for Israeli troops withdrawal from Gaza

Source: Xinhua | 01-19-2009 17:02

Special Report:   Israel airstrikes in Gaza

JERUSALEM, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said on Monday that the army has not yet made a concrete timetable for the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

The spokesman told Xinhua that the report of pulling out the troops before Obama's inauguration is a "rumor," but he said he hopes the withdrawal will happen soon.

According to a report of local news service Ynet, the IDF is expected to pull all its troops out of the Gaza Strip before U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath on Tuesday as a gesture to the incoming U.S. president.

It said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert mentioned the time frame when hosting visiting European leaders on Sunday night.

"We intend to leave Gaza as soon as possible once we make sure that Israel's south is safe. We did not set out to take Gaza, and we have no desire to stay in it," Olmert told a joint press conference with his guests prior to their meeting.

The report also said some cabinet ministers said that Israel does not want to "embarrass" Obama and hopes to continue its cooperation with the United States, its staunch ally, in the global fight against terror and the prevention of arms smuggling into Gaza.

On Sunday evening, the Jewish state actually began pulling out its forces in what it called an overall redeployment, hours after Hamas and other Gazan militant groups announced that they decided to stage a one-week ceasefire with Israel, during which they demand Israel withdraw its troops.

Following the partial withdrawal, the IDF left only a handful of forces in Gaza occupying strategic locations, and army sources said the withdrawal would be completed fairly quickly.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei