Most of the Israeli ground troops have been pulled out of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, according to a report by the Huffington Post saying it looks as though there is an apparent winding down of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which began on July 8, after three Israeli teens were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank allegedly by Hamas militants.
The ground offensive in the Gaza Strip is changing due to the progress that has been made by Israel Defense Forces. Lt. Col. Peter Lerner has confirmed that at least 30 tunnels have been destroyed that Hamas militants dug along the border which has led to the de-escalation of ground troops.
"We've caused substantial damage to this network to an extent where we've basically taken this huge threat and made it minimal," Lerner said.
Still there are some members of Netanyahu’s cabinet who disagree with calling the change in the ground operation a withdrawal. "It's not a withdrawal," Israeli Cabinet minister Amir Peretz told Channel 10 TV.
An Israeli senior official told the Huffington Post on the condition of anonymity, "It's setting up a new line that is a more controlled line with the air force doing its work. If Israel stops unilaterally, Hamas will declare victory and will not grant any security or truce to Israel. In this case, we are going to live under a war of attrition until a political solution is found."
Protests in Israel supporting “Operation Protective Edge” has put more pressure on Netanyahu to continue the military campaigns especially since a reported 64 Israeli soldiers have died.
Hamas militants have fired more than 3,000 missiles into Israel over the last three weeks in July that have mostly been intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system that shoots them out of the sky. This has kept the civilian population from suffering any casualties. To date three civilians have been killed in Israel. However the citizens in Israel as far north as Tel Aviv have been living with the sounds of sirens almost every day as missiles launched by Hamas fly overhead requiring them to go to bomb shelters turning their lives into chaos.
On Saturday Netanyahu acknowledged that the IDF has severely damaged Hamas and hurt the people in the Gaza Strip blaming Hamas for the violence. He warned that Hamas would pay “an intolerable price” if they continue to fire missiles into Israel.
Hamas continues to be defiant vowing to continue their fight against the IDF.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas told the Maan news agency “a unilateral withdrawal or redeployment by Israel in the Gaza Strip will be answered by a fitting response by the Hamas military arm.” Zuhri went on to say “the forces of occupation must choose between remaining in Gaza and paying the price or retreating and paying the price or holding negotiations and paying the price.”
While Netanyahu has been under political pressure to continue the IDF campaign, he is still getting a great deal of pressure from Washington and Europe to end the conflict. There are mounting concerns about resources in the Gaza Strip being depleted such as electricity after their one and only power plant was destroyed by IDF missile strikes. The Daily Mail reported on Sunday, there is also a lack of medical supplies, bad water and morgues that are overflowing with not enough resources to bury the more than 1,800 Palestinians which have been mostly women and children.
With well over 500 homes being destroyed by the IDF, at least a half-million Palestinians have had to flee their homes promptly thousands into the streets and forced to live in U.N. shelters where again the resources are becoming depleted.
In Cairo on Sunday, talks are continuing over a potential ceasefire. However Israel did not attend the talks saying there is “no point” in negotiating with Hamas since they have repeatedly refused to abide by previous ceasefire negotiations.