Home News What is the Philadelphia Corridor and why is it important?

What is the Philadelphia Corridor and why is it important?

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Israel announced on Wednesday that its army had taken control of a strip of land on the southern border of the Gaza Strip, suggesting it had achieved one of its goals in its fight against Hamas but also portending further isolation for the Palestinians in the Strip.

Let’s take a look at the importance of the border zone to Israel, Palestine and Egypt:

The strip of land is about 100 yards wide and stretches about eight miles from the Israeli border to the Mediterranean Sea. The new border, which bisects the city of Rafah, was established under the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty. To the northeast is Gaza, and to the southwest is Egypt. Egyptian border guards have been patrolling the strip of land under an agreement reached with Israel when Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Israelis refer to the strip as Philadelphia, while Egyptian officials call it Salah Al Din.

Senior Israeli officials have made control of the strip, known in Israel as the Philadelphia Corridor, a military goal. Hamas has dug tunnels beneath the strip, some wide enough for trucks, and uses them to smuggle weapons and personnel into Gaza, according to military experts.

“That way they can come in and out without asking the Israelis,” said Ahron Bregman, a political scientist at King’s College London, an expert on Middle East security and a former Israeli military officer. He said in a previous interview that unless the tunnels are blocked, Hamas might rebuild its military capabilities after the war.

Egypt has opened its borders to refugees during other regional conflicts, but President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government fears that if Palestinian civilians flee the war across the border they could destabilize the country and become a drag on its economy.

The government also sees Hamas as a rival that it does not want to have a foothold in Egypt. Hamas was originally an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement closely tied to the government that Sisi overthrew in 2013. Sisi’s government has been suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood since taking power.

Egypt warned Israel not to take any action that could force Gazans to cross the border or threaten the landmark peace agreement signed between the two countries in 1979.

In the decades before the war, Egypt Guard on duty The Israeli army deployed a unit on the border with Gaza. The current fighting in Gaza was sparked by an October 7 attack by Hamas-led forces on Israel.

Egypt is the only country other than Israel that borders Gaza, so Israeli control of the Strip is likely to be seen by Palestinians as a sign of growing isolation.

Meanwhile, Egyptian and Palestinian traders also use the tunnels to bring food and other goods into the Gaza Strip. Israel’s control of the Strip could put a stop to this underground trade.

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