Israel Pulls Back from Gaza Offensive
March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Israel began winding down its
offensive in the Gaza Strip that has left more than 100
Palestinians dead since last week, after the United Nations
demanded an end to the violence.
Israeli forces were withdrawing from the seaside enclave
ruled by the Islamic Hamas movement, an army spokesman said on
condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Israel began the ground, air and sea operation Feb. 29
after Hamas stepped up cross-border rocket attacks on southern
towns, firing Soviet-made Grad missiles that brought Ashkelon, a
city of 110,000 people that is 17 kilometers (11 miles) north of
Gaza, within range. Militants previously limited most attacks to
unguided, shorter range Qassam rockets made in Gaza.
The UN Security Council yesterday said the fighting ``must
not be allowed to deter the political process between Israel and
the Palestinian Authority.'' U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice is scheduled to meet tomorrow with Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in
an effort to push forward the peace talks.
Abbas yesterday said he was suspending negotiations due to
the violence, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said.