The Israeli army said it withdrew its troops from the city of Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip on Sunday. “The 98th Commando Detachment has completed its deployment in Khan Yunis,” the army said in a statement. She left the Gaza Strip “to recover and prepare for further operations.”

However, significant troops remain in the Gaza Strip “and will preserve the Israeli army’s freedom of action and its ability to carry out precise operations based on intelligence,” it said.

It was initially unclear whether the withdrawal from Khan Yunis marked an important turning point in the war or a new intermediate stage on the way to a possible deployment in the city of Rafah on the border with Egypt.

However, Israeli media interpreted the withdrawal as the end of the major ground offensive that began on October 27 last year. In the future, only targeted, selective operations are planned in Khan Yunis, wrote the news site ynet. The army will allow residents who have left Khan Yunis to return to their homes. The withdrawal includes three brigades, now only one brigade should remain in the coastal strip, reported the Jerusalem Post.

The army announced on Saturday that the body of a hostage had been recovered in Khan Yunis. The city is considered an important base of the Islamist Hamas.

Hamas triggered the war on October 7th with its brutal attack on Israel. Fighters from Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the USA, and other militant Palestinian groups entered Israeli towns on October 7th and carried out massacres of civilians. According to Israeli reports, they killed around 1,160 people, including many civilians. Around 250 people were also kidnapped as hostages in the Gaza Strip. About 130 of them are still being held, and more than 30 of them are presumed dead.

In response to the attack, Israel launched a massive military operation in the Gaza Strip, initially primarily in the north of the Gaza Strip, then in the city of Khan Yunis, which is considered a Hamas stronghold. According to Hamas’ latest figures, which cannot be independently verified, more than 33,100 people were killed.