Gallant: Israel Withdrawing From Southern Gaza to Prepare for Rafah Invasion

Israel is withdrawing troops but keeping the south cut off from the north

The Israeli military announced on Sunday that it was withdrawing troops from parts of southern Gaza, a step Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said was being taken to prepare for an assault on Rafah, the southern city on the Egyptian border that’s packed with 1.5 million Palestinians.

“The withdrawal of the troops from Khan Yunis was carried out after Hamas ceased to function as a military organization in the city, the forces left to prepare for the operation in Rafah,” Gallant said.

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the head of the Israeli military, said the withdrawal does not mean the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians would end anytime soon. “The war in Gaza continues, and we are far from stopping. Senior Hamas officials are still in hiding. We will get to them sooner or later,” he said.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the withdrawal means Palestinians can move freely in southern Gaza and in the city of Khan Younis. But the Israeli military is still keeping northern Gaza cut off from the south.

Military Situation in Gaza on April 7, 2024 (

The White House said the Israeli announcement was likely about rest for the Israeli troops, who have been in southern Gaza for four months. “As we understand it, and through their public announcements, it is really just about rest and refit for these troops that have been on the ground for four months and not necessarily, that we can tell, indicative of some coming new operation for these troops,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

Israel’s plans to attack Rafah have been a source of tensions between the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House, although there’s no sign the US has threatened to cut military support if Israel goes ahead with the invasion. A full-scale assault on Rafah would incur huge civilian casualties since most of the Palestinians are sheltering in tents on the street, and would disrupt aid shipments coming in from Egypt.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.