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Israeli defense forces on Tuesday night began pulling out of a portion of the Palestinian-controlled Gaza territory, that they had taken over earlier in the day. That's been confirmed by the Israeli Army spokesman. The pullout follows a U.S. request that Israel leave the area. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell had said that the American government was deeply concerned that the fighting could escalate, and lead to a broader conflict in the region.

Although Powell blamed the Palestinians for provoking the violence in Gaza after they bombed the Israeli town of Sderot the day before with mortars, he called Israel's retaliation "excessive and disproportionate."

Israel had also divided Gaza into three zones, preventing movement between the southern and northern sections of the Strip, and cutting off Gaza City from the surrounding areas.