The Israeli military has begun construction of an over half-mile buffer zone along the entire 37-mile Gaza border, Channel 12 reported on Sunday.
The buffer zone will be located on the Gaza side of the border, and only Israel Defense Forces personnel will be allowed to enter.
Reuters reported in early December that Israel had informed Arab countries in the region and the United States of its intent to establish the buffer zone.
“Israel wants this buffer zone between Gaza and Israel from the north to the south to prevent any Hamas or other terrorists from infiltrating or attacking Israel,” a senior regional security official told the news agency.
Thousands of Hamas terrorists stormed the security fence on Oct. 7, rampaging across the northwestern Negev, murdering approximately 1,200 people, wounding more than 5,000 others and taking over 200 hostages back to Gaza. Jerusalem’s war goals are to free all of the captives, destroy Hamas as a military and political entity and ensure that Gaza never again becomes a threat to Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem on Nov. 30 that the Israel Defense Forces would establish a buffer zone extending “deep” into Gaza after the war.
However, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Dec. 1 that Washington opposes “any reduction of the geographic limits of Gaza,” saying that the Strip “must remain Palestinian land.”
Ophir Falk, foreign policy adviser to Netanyahu, told Reuters that the plan is “based on a three-tier process for the day after Hamas” that includes destroying the terrorist group, demilitarizing Gaza and deradicalizing the population.
“A buffer zone may be part of the demilitarization process,” Falk said.
Netanyahu told a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee on Dec. 11 that Israel would control the Philadelphi Corridor—the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt—and that Israel would impose a buffer zone within the Gaza Strip between the Palestinian populations and Israeli communities.