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Israel to withdraw forces from Gaza border communities

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Jerusalem, Dec 31 (IANS) Israel will withdraw part of its forces securing the country’s communities near the Gaza border Jan 1, the Israeli military said Tuesday.

There are still some forces which will remain on security for three communities adjacent to the border and "ready for any scenario," the military said in a statement, Xinhua reported.

"The move follows an evaluation of the security situation, with the understanding that the protection the Israel Defence Forces provided to the residents of the Gaza border region is optimal," it added.

Israel deployed large military and police forces to defend the communities in the western Negev against potential infiltration attempts by armed militants during its conflict with Hamas this summer.

Most forces have been withdrawn since the conflict ended Aug 26, while several hundred army troops still stayed behind.

Residents in the Gaza border communities, which had been battered by hundreds of rockets and mortar shells from Hamas in the summer conflict, demanded some forces to stay to prevent more attacks.

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