Special report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts
JERUSALEM, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- An Israel Defense
Forces (IDF) spokesman said on Monday that the army has not yet made a concrete
timetable for the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
The spokesman told Xinhua that the report of pulling
out the troops before Obama's inauguration is a "rumor," but he said he hopes
the withdrawal will happen soon.
According to a report of local news service Ynet, the
IDF is expected to pull all its troops out of the Gaza Strip before U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath on Tuesday as a gesture to the
incoming U.S. president.
It said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert mentioned the time
frame when hosting visiting European leaders on Sunday night.
"We intend to leave Gaza as soon as possible once we
make sure that Israel's south is safe. We did not set out to take Gaza, and we
have no desire to stay in it," Olmert told a joint press conference with his
guests prior to their meeting.
The report also said some cabinet ministers said that
Israel does not want to "embarrass" Obama and hopes to continue its cooperation
with the United States, its staunch ally, in the global fight against terror and
the prevention of arms smuggling into Gaza.
On Sunday evening, the Jewish state actually began
pulling out its forces in what it called an overall redeployment, hours after
Hamas and other Gazan militant groups announced that they decided to stage a
one-week ceasefire with Israel, during which they demand Israel withdraw its
Following the partial withdrawal, the IDF left only a
handful of forces in Gaza occupying strategic locations, and army sources said
the withdrawal would be completed fairly quickly.