Taking over the Philadelphi Route: An Strategic card

Hagari. IDF spokesmen

For the first time in a while, the IDF has achieved a significant strategic advantage for Israel: The total occupation of the ‘Philadelphi route’ – the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, which was completed yesterday afternoon. For the first time since the disengagement, the borders of the Gaza Strip are all under full Israeli control, with all that this implies – from imports and exports of goods, to the passage of people. The border was, in principle, closed by the Egyptian government – but dozens of tunnels that passed under the border enjoyed fruitful trade, smuggling and human passage, a connection between the Gaza Strip and the outside world. The “barrier” built by the IDF at the pre-war border worked in both directions – so that the technological improvements made by Hamas over the years (the construction of an upgraded tunnel system, and an increase in the number of rockets held by the organization) can be attributed mainly to the Egyptian border.

The occupation of the axis constitutes a detachment of Hamas’s “oxygen pipeline,” which was dependent on it to renew its power, arm itself, and maintain its rule. The continued Israeli hold on the axis in the long-term will inevitably lead to the weakening of Hamas, and perhaps even to its final collapse, so this is a significant leverage of pressure by Israel, which can be used successfully by our representatives in the negotiations for the release of the hostages that resumed this week. This also serves as a lever for some pressure on Egypt, which does not want battles on its borders, nor does it want to expose its allowing of the Hamas smuggling to the whole world. Egyptian pressure was expressed yesterday, when a senior Egyptian source claimed that “there are no tunnels on the border with the Gaza Strip” and that this was an “Israeli propaganda invention”.

In parallel with this Egyptian claim, IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari presented pictures and maps of a tunnel destroyed by our forces, just 100 meters from the Rafah Crossing, which contained a large amount of weapons, including many anti-tank missiles. Hagari said that along the border there were at least 20 Hamas smuggling tunnels, which the IDF is going to deal with – and also, he eased many concerns when he said that, as far as is known, hostages were not smuggled out of the Gaza Strip through the tunnels. A video circulated in the networks showed many rocket launchers found between the dunes along the border. The IDF activity in Rafah continues in full force, with minimal harm to Gazans in relation to previous maneuvers.

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