Israel says it has control of smuggling tunnels on Gaza border, fighting may extend for 7 more months | Top 8 Updates

Israel claims it has seized a strategic corridor to block smuggling tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border, and a top official said the fighting might continue throughout 2024, even as the ICJ last week ordered a halt to attacks in Rafah over genocide accusations.

Livemint, Written By Jocelyn Fernandes
First Published30 May 2024
Displaced Palestinians sit by their tents at a makeshift displacement camp in Rafah's Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip on May 29, 2024, a site that was reportedly hit a day earlier during Israeli bombardment, which the army denied. Street fighting and Israeli bombardment rocked Gaza's far-southern Rafah on May 29, Palestinian residents and officials said, a day after Israeli tanks rolled into the centre of the city near the Egyptian border.
Displaced Palestinians sit by their tents at a makeshift displacement camp in Rafah’s Mawasi area in the southern Gaza Strip on May 29, 2024, a site that was reportedly hit a day earlier during Israeli bombardment, which the army denied. Street fighting and Israeli bombardment rocked Gaza’s far-southern Rafah on May 29, Palestinian residents and officials said, a day after Israeli tanks rolled into the centre of the city near the Egyptian border. (Photo by Bashar Taleb / AFP)

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) on May 29 said that they had captured a “strategic corridor” along the Gaza-Egypt border to cut off “smuggling tunnels” in the area, as per an Associated Press report. This is the latest in its purported offensive against Hamas that will soon reach its eighth month, it added. 

“The Philadelphi Corridor served as the oxygen line of Hamas through which Hamas carried out weapons smuggling into Gaza on a regular basis,” said Israel's military chief spokesperson, Rear Adm Daniel Hagari. Another official told the AP that Egypt has been notified about the takeover.

Also Read | ‘Terrorism, moral depravity, disgusting…’ anger erupts over Nikki Haley's ‘Finish Them’ message on Israeli shell

However, Egypt's state-run Al-Qahera News TV said there was “no communications with the Israeli side” about the tunnels, AP reported.

The military further added that it has “deepened incursions" into the Rafah area, where tents sheltering Gazans were bombed overnight on May 28. The AP report cited that IDF's fifth brigade (7,000 soldiers) joined troops operating in the city on May 28.

Here are the top 8 developments

  • Israel-Egypt Relations: Israel's seizure of the 100 m wide and 14 km long Philadelphi Corridor could spell trouble for its diplomatic relations with Egypt, which has complained of the former's closing military presence to its border. Egypt said any more increase in troops would violate their 1979 peace Accord. Before this, it had also complained about Israel taking control of the Rafah border crossing, which allows passage between Gaza and Egypt. 

Also Read | With ‘All eyes on Rafah’, where are millions of Palestinians fleeing amid Israeli strikes?

  • Smuggling tunnels: Israel claims the presence of tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor and said that these are being used to supply weapons and other goods to Hamas from Egypt. The allegation comes even as both Israel and Egypt have held years-long blockage of the borders, AP noted.
  • Details about tunnels: An Israeli official told AP they found 20 tunnels (some unknown) and 82 access points to these tunnels in the region. Some of the tunnels are large enough for vehicles, it added. 
  • Peace Accord: The 1979 Peace Accord between Israel and Egypt has demilitarised large parts of the countries' borders, each allowing only a small number of border guards by mutual agreement. Egypt has also voiced concern that displaced Palestinians could be pushed across the border, a prospect it calls “unacceptable.”

Also Read | 'Despite our utmost efforts...': Netanyahu calls Israeli strike in Rafah a 'tragic mistake' that killed 45 people

  • Tactical moves: The IDF has also said it has “tactical control” of Rafah's northwest area called Tel al-Sultan but called the incursion a “limited scope and scale operation”, as per the AP report.
  • US White House response: White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the seizure of the Philadelphi Corridor is “consistent with limited ground operation”. He added that US President Joe Biden had been briefed about the operations and that this was “to put pressure on Hamas in the city”.

Also Read | Israel Sees Seven More Months of Fighting to Defeat Hamas

  • Attack on ambulance: The Gaza Health Ministry on May 29 said two ambulance crew members were killed in Israeli strikes on their way to evacuate those injured at Tel al-Sultan.
  • War may last through 2024: A top Israeli official told the AP that the conflict is “likely to last through the end of the year”. Israel's national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, told Kan public radio he was “expecting another seven months of fighting”. “The army has said from the start the war will be long. They have designated 2024 as a year of war,” Hanegbi said.

Also Read | Meet Indian Judge Dalveer Bhandari, who voted against Israel's Rafah offensive at ICJ

According to the United Nations, one million people have been displaced due to the attacks in Rafah. These refugees were also displaced from other parts of Gaza. Notably, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on May 24 ordered Israel to halt its attacks on Rafah while hearing South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, a charge Israel denies.

(With inputs from AP)

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HomeNewsworldIsrael says it has control of smuggling tunnels on Gaza border, fighting may extend for 7 more months | Top 8 Updates

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