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Some Israelis allowed to return to border communities near Gaza Strip, military says

Israel’s Home Front Command is reportedly preparing to allow some residents who lived in border communities near the Gaza Strip to return to their homes as fighting in the north winds down after three months. 

Israelis who lived within 4 miles of Gaza were evacuated after the October 7 assault, in which Hamas militants infiltrated Israel and massacred 1,200 people, and kidnapped 240 others to Gaza. The hardest-hit communities were within two to four miles of Gaza. 

Some have since returned, but many have stayed away as fighting continues, being hosted at hotels or at kibbutz guesthouses, per the Times of Israel. 

Citing the Home Front Command, the Times reported Monday that those at least 2.5 miles from Northern Gaza – where the IDF says it has decimated Hamas – will start returning to their homes, though no timeline was offered. 

It follows the reopening of the rabbinical seminary, the Max and Ruth Scwartz Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot last week. 

The Times’ report comes as the Israeli military confirmed it was pulling thousands of troops out of the Gaza Strip, a step that could clear the way for a new long-term phase of lower-intensity fighting against Hamas.

In its announcement, the army said that five brigades, or several thousand troops, would be taken out of Gaza in the coming weeks. Some will return to bases for further training or rest, while many older reservists will go home. The war has taken a toll on the economy by preventing reservists from going to their jobs, running their businesses or returning to university studies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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