Last Israeli troops leave Gaza Strip

Tel Aviv - Israel pulled the last of its soldiers out the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning, over two and a half weeks since they were sent in as part of an intense Israeli operation against militants in the salient, a military spokesman in Tel Aviv said.

The spokesman would not give further details about the withdrawal.

Israeli troops began pulling out the Strip on Sunday evening, hours after Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire, ending its three-week-long Operation Cast Lead.

The operation, launched in response to massive rocket salvos from the salient on population centres in southern Israel, began on December 27 with a week of intense airstrikes.

Ground forces crossed into the Strip on the evening of January 3.

More than 1,400 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed in the Israeli assault, either by airstrikes or in the heavy fighting which followed after the troops took up positions in the enclave.

Some 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians were also killed during the operation. (dpa)