IDF Pulls Out, Hamas Claims 'Victory'

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CBNNNews.com - As Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops began pulling out of their positions in the northern Gaza Strip early Monday, Hamas declared itself the victor of the weekend's intensive fighting.

"The enemy has been defeated," a Hamas spokesman said in a news bulletin on Hamas radio.

"Gaza will always be a graveyard for the occupation forces," senior Hamas operative Sami Abu Zuhri said.

The IDF was unimpressed with the terror group's braggadocio.

"It's wrong to use statements of victories and occupation, but there is not doubt that the extent of casualties on the Palestinian side, among the terror organizations, is significant and sends a clear message," on IDF official said.

Another IDF official said Hamas should take note for the future.

"This very limited operation was intended to show Hamas what could happen, what you might call a "prequel," he said.

"If they decide they've seen enough and stop the rockets, if they get the message, then we may get into a period of quiet. If they continue to fire rockets, then there will be more operations like this one or worse," he said.

On Sunday evening, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Hamas will pay a price for its actions.

"The time has come for action. Hamas is responsible and will pay a price," Barak said.

"We disengaged from the Strip, and we uprooted communities and Israelis from their homes just so there would be quiet for the Gaza vicinity towns. These were painful concessions, which we made for peace, and Hamas continues its attacks," he said.

On Sunday, Palestinians fired 40 rockets on southern Israel, including two Grad-type Katyusha missiles on Ashkelon, injuring three Israelis.

Four IDF soldiers were injured in Sunday's fighting and 12 Palestinians died, some of whom succumbed to injuries from the day before.

Palestinian sources said half of the weekend fatalities were civilians, including women and children, but IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi said of the 100 fatalities, 90 were armed terrorists.

On Sunday, IAF aircraft targeted four weapons manufacturing facilities and a Hamas office.

Sources: Haaretz, YNet news service, The Jerusalem Post

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