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Netanyahu: Israel exploring plans for Gaza-Egypt border

"We will not end the war without closing this loophole. If we end the war without this, we will not be able to know that we have isolated Gaza," said the Israeli premier.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, Dec. 31, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, Dec. 31, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled on Saturday that Israel was considering various options for securing the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.

Speaking during a press conference to mark 100 days of the war with Hamas, Netanyahu said, “We will not end the war without closing this loophole.

The 8.7-mile long Gaza-Egypt border is commonly known as the Philadelphi Corridor.

“If we end the war without this, we will not be able to know that we have isolated Gaza. There are several options for how to close it. We have not yet made a decision,” said Netanyahu.

It was the most cautious phrasing yet used by the prime minister, who said on Dec. 30, “The Philadelphi Corridor, or the southern fence, must be in our hands and must be closed. Any other arrangement will not ensure the demilitarization that we want and must guarantee.”

The Philadelphi Corridor has long been known as a smuggling route.

“In addition to facilitating terrorist activity, the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza have, for years, facilitated illicit commerce. Criminals leverage the subterranean route to transport drugs and everyday goods into the Gaza Strip,” according to Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

Israeli and Egyptian officials have said that they are “planning a military operation along the Gaza side of the border,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Israel is also exploring possibilities short of full control of the border, the Journal reported earlier, according to which Israel asked Egypt about installing sensors that would alert Israel if tunnel building resumes.

The option of Israeli-operated drones patrolling the corridor was also discussed, although Egypt said that would be a violation of its sovereignty, according to that report.

Israel controlled all the borders with the Gaza Strip until its 2005 disengagement. In September of that year, Israel handed control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, which was then supplanted by Hamas in 2007.

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