Israel Withdraws Ground Troops as Gaza Ceasefire Holds

Egypt to Host Indirect Talks on Settlement

The Israeli government has withdrawn the last of its ground troops today, as the new ceasefire has taken effect and seems to be holding. So far, all cross-border attacks have been halted by both sides.

That 72-hour truce opens up a window for negotiations on a peace settlement, and while Israel won’t meet directly with the Palestinians on the matter, the Egyptian junta has agreed to act as mediator, ferrying messages back and forth between the two sides until a pact is reached.

The return of calm, whether temporary or not, allows hundreds of thousands of displaced Gazans to return to their homes, or at least to the rubble that used to be their homes before the intense Israeli bombardment.

Massive amounts of damage and death in civilian neighborhoods has many still talking about bringing up the Israeli government on war crimes charges, and the Palestinian Foreign Ministry is pushing the International Criminal Court for an investigation.

That’s probably a long shot, as the US generally protects Israel from any war crimes allegations, even when faced with a preponderance of evidence and even when US officials have been critical of the Israeli war.

The more pressing issue, at any rate, is negotiating a settlement, so that the 72-hour ceasefire doesn’t simply end with a return to Israeli shelling. The withdrawal of ground troops is encouraging, but Israel seemed to be in the process of doing that at any rate, trying to limit their own casualties and return the war to its pre-invasion state.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.