World News

Israel extends control of Gaza’s entire land border

Video caption, Israel releases images of its forces ‘inside Rafah’

  • Author, Catherine Armstrong
  • Role, BBC News

The Israeli military said it had taken control of the strategically important buffer zone along the Gaza-Egypt border, known as the Philadelphia Corridor, meaning it now controls the entire land border of Gaza.

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said around 20 tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle weapons into Gaza had been discovered in the area.

Egyptian television cited sources who denied the report and said Israel was trying to justify its military operation in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

This announcement comes at a time of increased tensions with Egypt.

“In recent days, IDF troops have established operational control over the Philadelphia Corridor, on the border between Egypt and Rafah,” IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Wednesday.

He described the corridor as a “lifeline” for Hamas, through which the group “regularly smuggled weapons into the Gaza Strip.”

He said troops were “investigating…and neutralizing” tunnels discovered in the area.

Mr. Hagari later said in a briefing with reporters that he could not be sure whether all the tunnels passed through Egypt, the New York Times reported.

The Philadelphia Corridor is a buffer zone, only about 100m wide in places, that runs along the 13km border with Egypt on the Gaza side. Gaza’s only other land border is with Israel itself.

Egypt has previously said it has destroyed cross-border tunnels, making weapons smuggling impossible.

And a “high-level” Egyptian source, cited by Al-Qahera News, accused Israel of “using these allegations to justify the continuation of the operation on the Palestinian town of Rafah and the prolongation of the war for political purposes “.

Israel has insisted it needs Rafah to achieve victory in the war sparked by Hamas’ unprecedented attack on the country on October 7, in which around 1,200 people were killed and 252 others taken. as hostages.

At least 36,170 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the conflict, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Tensions between Egypt and Israel have escalated since Israeli forces took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing three weeks ago as part of their offensive against Hamas.

Egypt is a strong supporter of the Palestinians and has condemned the Israeli military campaign in Gaza and Israel’s killing of thousands of civilians during the war.

Like Israel, Egypt has maintained a blockade on its border with Gaza since Hamas came to power in 2006. Hamas is an offshoot of the Islamist organization the Muslim Brotherhood, banned as a terrorist group in Egypt.

Egypt, however, kept channels open with Hamas and mediated indirect talks between Israel and the group in an attempt to reach a ceasefire agreement and the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Hamas in Gaza.

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, An Egyptian soldier standing guard in a watchtower, seen from the town of Rafah in Gaza (archive image)

News Source :
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