Israel Continues Withdrawal From Gaza

Israeli forces have continued to pull out of the Gaza Strip following a tentative truce with Hamas. Military officials said troops and tanks that entered Gaza on January 3 as part of an offensive to counter Palestinian rocket attacks were gradually leaving. But they said troops remained ready to tackle any flare-ups in fighting. Israel and Hamas separately declared ceasefires on Sunday, to the relief of Western powers which were becoming increasingly alarmed by the mounting humanitarian toll in the impoverished territory. As Palestinians emerged from hiding, angered at the killing of more than 1,300 fellow Gazans and at the widespread destruction of homes and government infrastructure, the head of the Hamas administration claimed a "popular victory" against Israel. "The enemy has failed to achieve its goals," Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech. Hamass truce decision, conditioned on Israel withdrawing within a week, was "wise and responsible," he said.