Hamas hails ”victory” after Israeli ground forces leave Gaza Strip
Israeli ground forces pulled out of the Gaza Strip on Monday after days of fighting that killed more than 100 Palestinians. Hamas declared "victory" and vowed to continue firing rockets into Israel. But the Israeli government declared it had achieved its goal of deterring attacks.
At dawn, as Gazans streamed out of homes, a spokesman for the Hamas armed wing said it would continue firing rockets into Israel. "The enemy has been defeated," he said, according to Reuters.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said: "Gaza will always be a graveyard for the occupation forces."
On his part, an Israeli government spokesman said after the troops pulled back: "We will continue with our defensive actions against those who fire lethal rockets at our civilians." Vice Premier Haim Ramon, deputy to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Army Radio: "This operation has run its course. "The main goal of the Israeli government ... is to end the firing at targets in the south. There were dozens of deaths among the Hamas terorrists -- this is certainly deterrence."
But despite the withdrawal, Israeli warplanes continued to pound targets in the Gaza Strip. Five Palestinian activists were killed early Monday in raids by Israeli aircraft and shelling of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli navy, Palestinian security officials said, according to AFP. Israeli warplanes carried out five other raids against metal workshops throughout the Gaza Strip, after two earlier raids late Sunday had destroyed a metal workshop and wounded one person.
Yet another air raid destroyed the headquarters of members of the Palestinian parliament in Khan Yunes in the south of the Strip, the officials said.