Gaza: what is the “Philadelphia Corridor”, this border area with Egypt that Israel has taken control of

Gaza: what is the “Philadelphia Corridor”, this border area with Egypt that Israel has taken control of
Gaza: what is the “Philadelphia Corridor”, this border area with Egypt that Israel has taken control of

A 14 km piece of land with highly strategic issues. This Wednesday, the Israeli army announced that it had taken control of the Philadelphia Corridor, a buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt. The army claimed to have discovered “around twenty tunnels” in this border corridor, which it suspects of being used for smuggling for armed groups in the Palestinian territory.

At the same time, Israel has intensified its bombings on Rafah, a town bordering Egypt, despite international condemnation raised by the deadly bombing on Sunday of a camp for displaced people.

What is this area?

Known as the Philadelphia Corridor or the Saladin Corridor, the area taken by Israel on Wednesday is a narrow strip of land 14 km long and 100 m wide which borders the border between Gaza and Egypt.

In 1978, following the Camp David agreements – which sealed peace between Israel and Egypt – this territory was set up as a buffer zone, recalls L’Orient le jour. The objective: to prohibit the movement of people or even illegal materials between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Originally under the control of Tel Aviv, the Philadelphia corridor passed into the hands of Cairo in 2005, when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Egypt then undertakes to fight against terrorism and arms trafficking on its border.

Why did Israel take over the area?

Since October 7, the Philadelphia corridor has once again been considered a major strategic issue for Israel. The Jewish state claims that trafficking networks neglected by the Egyptian authorities or escaping their surveillance, would have allowed Hamas to build its underground passages and arm itself over the years.

“The Philadelphia corridor must be in our hands and under our control, and any arrangement other than that will not be accepted by Israel,” Benjamin Netanyahu already declared in a press conference on December 30.

This Wednesday, the IDF claimed to have discovered “around twenty tunnels” in the border sector, which it suspects of being used for smuggling for armed groups in the Palestinian territory.

How is Egypt positioned?

In the wake of Israeli announcements this Wednesday, Egypt denied the presence of tunnels under the Philadelphia corridor. “Israel uses these allegations to justify the continuation of the operation on the Palestinian town of Rafah (in the far south of the Gaza Strip, on the Egyptian border, editor’s note) and to prolong the war for political ends,” defends a high-ranking Egyptian Source in a media close to Egyptian intelligence.

In the past, Egypt has already made it known that it considers the capture of this area by Israel as the crossing of a red line. “Any Israeli move aimed at occupying the Philadelphia axis in the Gaza Strip will pose a grave and serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli relations,” declared the head of the Egyptian General Information Organization, Diaa Rashwan, at the end of January. .

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