Israel says it controls Gaza’s land border with Egypt

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Israel effectively expanded its control over the entire land border of the Gaza Strip after its army said it had “established operational control” over a buffer zone of strategic importance separating the Strip from Egypt.

The nine-mile-wide corridor, which the Israeli military refers to by its code name — “Philadelphia Corridor” — was until Wednesday the only land border of Gaza that Israel did not directly control. This comes at a time when Israel intensified its attack on the city of Rafah in the far south of the Gaza Strip, killing dozens of Palestinians.

“The Philadelphia Corridor served as an oxygen line for Hamas, which it regularly uses to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip area,” Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press conference, referring to the militant group that Israel has eliminated in the past. Eight months trying to destroy because of the October 7 attacks.

Hajari did not specify what the IDF meant by “operational control.” State-run Egypt Cairo News The channel stated that there is no truth to the Israeli claims that it discovered 20 Hamas tunnels in the corridor.

The corridor, which Israel seized long ago, was intended to be a demilitarized zone between Gaza and Egypt. Hamas has controlled the Strip since it took control of the coastal enclave in 2007. It has built tunnels, some wide enough to smuggle vehicles and commercial construction materials, to circumvent the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt. Israeli officials also claimed that Hamas used the tunnels to smuggle weapons used in the October 7 attacks in southern Israel.

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His latest investigation Middle East Eye News OrganizationIt concluded, citing secret military documents, that Egyptian military engineers had destroyed more than 2,000 tunnels linking Gaza to Egypt since 2011.

Egypt has been fighting local militants allied with Islamic State on its side of the border for more than a decade. At one point, according to a Middle East Eye investigation, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered his armed forces to conduct a feasibility study for a proposal to dig a canal along the entire border with Gaza.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that Israel’s seizure of the Philadelphia Corridor is consistent with what Israeli officials have briefed President Joe Biden’s team about their plans for a “limited” operation in Rafah. “It involved moving along this corridor,” Kirby said.

Separately, National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, a senior Israeli official close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Israeli media on Wednesday that Israel’s war against Hamas may continue until the end of the year.

“We may have another seven months of fighting to consolidate our success and achieve what we described as destroying Hamas’ power and military capabilities,” Hanegbi said.

Negotiations aimed at a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the return of hostages held by Hamas appear to be stalled. These discussions are taking place through mediators Egypt, Qatar and the United States

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