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Peace and Conflict

Israel takes full control of Egypt-Gaza border | Update 30th May 2024

Israel takes full control of Egypt-Gaza border via BICom

What’s happened: The IDF has announced that it has taken full operational control of the Philadelphi Corridor, the 9km border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.        

  • IDF Spokesperson Hagari said, “The Philadelphi Corridor served as Hamas’s oxygen line, through which Hamas routinely smuggled weaponry into Gaza Strip territory. Our troops have located along the corridor dozens of loaded launchers ready for firing rockets, launch pits that Hamas used to fire rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory. Hamas exploited the Philadelphi Corridor area, built that infrastructure just a few dozen metres distance from the border with Egypt so that we would not attack it.”
  • In the course of the operation, the IDF uncovered around 20 tunnels and exposed 82 tunnel shafts.  
  • One of the tunnel shafts was located 100 meters from the Rafah Crossing. According to the IDF, “the tunnel branches into several different routes and at various depths. The entire route is 1.5 km long and contained several blast doors. During the operation, large quantities of weapons, including short-range anti-tank missiles, AK-47s, explosives and grenades were found inside. The route included a hideout, toilets, and additional rooms. All the routes and compounds were destroyed.”
  • The IDF has also continued to operate in northern Gaza. In Jabaliya, according to the IDF, “troops raided dozens of rocket launching compounds, destroyed the launchers and neutralised the compounds. The troops located a number of shafts and destroyed them, and the soldiers of the Rotem Battalion raided a combat compound near a mosque and located dozens of weapons, components for preparing explosives inside suitcases, dozens of grenades, military equipment and ammunition.”
  • Meanwhile, the IDF announced another soldier, Staff Sgt. Yedidya Azugi, a 21-year-old resident of Revava who served with the Paratroopers Brigade, was killed in action in northern Gaza. Another three soldiers sustained serious injuries in combat in the Strip.

West Bank: Two IDF soldiers were killed in a car ramming attack near Nablus on Wednesday.

  • Staff Sgt. Eliya Hillel, a 20-year-old resident of Tel Zion and Staff Sgt. Diego Shvisha Harsaj, a 20-year-old resident of Tel Aviv, both served with the Kfir Brigade. 
  • The assailant who committed the attack escaped but later turned himself in to the Palestinian security forces in Nablus.  
  • In a separate incident in the Tulkarem area, three armed men dressed as Nukba terrorists with green Hamas headbands filmed themselves getting out a car and firing automatic weapons over the security fence towards the Israeli community of Bat Hefer.
  • The filming of the incident is a deliberate attempt at phycological warfare, to scare the Israeli public.
  • Prior to October 7th, there was growing concern that the West Bank would see an escalation of terror attacks.   
  • Whilst motivation to commit attacks remains high, the IDF have continued to target terror cells. Yediot Ahronot includes data this morning that since the war began, “more than 65 terrorists have been killed in Jenin, more than 160 have been arrested and roughly 100 guns have been confiscated. Roughly 40 terrorists have been killed in Tulkarm, some 40 have been arrested and more than 30 guns have been confiscated. Roughly 50 terrorists have been killed in the Nur Shams refugee camp, some 50 have been arrested and around 70 guns have been confiscated. Furthermore, 50 air strikes have been carried out in Judea and Samaria in the course of the war, including by combat planes.”

Context: The control of the Philadelphi Corridor was seen as a crucial objective to prevent Hamas’s smuggling and re-armament.

  • Despite IDF operations in the vicinity, over the last few weeks Hamas has fired 70 rockets and mortar shells from the Rafah area. One rocket was fired this morning towards Kibbutz Nirim, landing in an open area.    
  • IDF troops are deployed along the entire length of the corridor, with the exception of the immediate vicinity of the Mediterranean coast area. That area is mostly sand dunes so there were no tunnels in that area and it is being monitored remotely.  
  • The latest IDF fatalities takes the overall total of the war to 642 soldiers, including 291 who have been killed during the ground operation.
  • IDF Chief of Staff Halevi visited Rafah yesterday and told troops, “we are here for several reasons. First, this is the last brigade that remains with full capabilities, and therefore we want to dismantle the Rafah Brigade. But we will deepen the achievement, and we will bring Hamas to very low points. This requires a lot of professionalism, a lot of determination, a lot of values, knowing that completely dismantling Hamas is a national mission of the State of Israel.”
  • Israel continues to facilitate the flow of aid into Gaza. On Tuesday, according to COGAT, 465 humanitarian aid trucks were transferred, including 124 to the Strip’s north. 45 pallets of aid were also airdropped.
  • In the north, there have been continued attacks emanating from Lebanon including rockets, anti-tank missiles and drones.  
  • Defence Gallant held an operational situation assessment and visited several command and control centres in the IDF’s Northern Command yesterday. Of the Hezbollah leader he said “Nasrallah is dragging Lebanon into a very, very difficult reality – one in which the people of Lebanon and Hezbollah forces will pay the price.”
  • The Syrian government claims that an Israeli strike yesterday killed one and wounded 10 civilians. It claims that fighter jets targeted a building in Baniyas, just south of Latakia. Israel rarely comments on alleged operations in Syria.
  • Reports suggest that a US drone was downed by the Houthis in Yemen. If so, this would be the third such recent downing.
  • Meanwhile, Iranian regime-affiliated media reported yesterday that Tehran has made its sea-launched ballistic missile Ghadr available to the Houthis.

Looking ahead: The capture and control of the Philadelphia Corridor was one of the major military objectives. The challenge will now be to destroy or incapacitate all the tunnels.

  • The IDF are expected to remain deployed along the border for the foreseeable future, but longer term the plan will be to reach an understanding with Egypt, possibly to build an underground barrier and even to establish a joint monitoring and oversight capacity.
  • National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi predicted yesterday that "the fighting in Gaza will continue for at least another seven months.”

via BICom