JERUSALEM – Israeli officials say their troops will leave the Gaza Strip before President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated on Tuesday.
This is the first official indication that Israel plans a rapid withdrawal of its forces after announcing a unilateral cease-fire Saturday in its devastating three-week offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Thousands of Israeli troops have begun leaving Gaza. 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 says that if Gaza remains quiet, Israel’s departure will be "almost immediate."