Israel’s withdrawal suggests the war has entered a new phase.

The Israeli military’s departure from southern Gaza over the weekend has left the territory without a major battlefield for the first time since a brief truce with Hamas in November, raising hopes that the two sides might reach another cease-fire.

Analysts say the redeployment means that the war is entering a new phase, one in which Israeli forces, mainly stationed along Gaza’s borders, will mostly mount brief raids into the territory before retreating to Israel, rather than lengthy ground maneuvers involving large numbers of troops.

By withdrawing without either capturing Hamas’s last major stronghold, Rafah, or empowering an alternative Palestinian leadership, Israel has left behind a power vacuum in which Hamas could regroup and re-emerge as a military force across much of the territory.

That likelihood has prompted expectations that Israel will continue to mount small-scale operations across Gaza to prevent Hamas’s resurgence, extending the war for months to come. That strategy could occupy a middle ground between reaching a lasting truce with Hamas and advancing in force into Rafah.

The Israeli military said on Sunday that its 98th Division had left Khan Younis in southern Gaza in order “to recuperate and prepare for future operations.” That leaves no Israeli troops actively maneuvering in southern Gaza, according to two officials briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

The drawdown of troops continues a process that began in January and leaves the equivalent of a single brigade in all of Gaza, or fewer than 5,000 troops — down from roughly 50,000 at the height of the war in December.

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