Israeli officials: Gaza troops out by inauguration

January 19, 2009 09:01

Israeli officials say troops will leave the Gaza Strip before Tuesday's inauguration of Barack Obama as the new US president. This is the first official indication that Israel plans a rapid withdrawal of its forces after announcing a unilateral cease-fire late Saturday. The decision could be linked to Israel's desire to get off to a smooth start with the new US administration. Thousands of troops started coming out of Gaza on Saturday. Hamas declared a weeklong truce on Sunday. The officials spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been publicly announced. Government spokesman Mark Regev would not confirm the timetable. He said only that if Gaza remains quiet Israel's departure will be "almost immediate."

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