The so-called Philadelphia Corridorwhich runs along the border Egypt with the Gaza Strip, is one of the most desirable goals of the prime minister’s military strategy. Benjamin Netanyahu. His control partly explains the expansion of the offensive that Netanyahu ordered the Israeli army into the city of Rafah, where 1.4 million people remain displaced since the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip began last October, amid international condemnation. for the humanitarian consequences and lives this may entail.

What is the Philadelphia Corridor?

This is a 14-kilometer strip of land that runs and covers the entire Gaza Strip border with Egypt. Also called the Philadelphia Route or the Salah al-Din Axis, it is actually a buffer zone created by the peace treaty signed in 1979 by Egypt and Israel, which marked Cairo’s recognition of the Jewish state. According to the Camp David Accords, signed in 1978, the Philadelphia Corridor is a demilitarized zone. The agreement marked the end of Israel’s occupation of Sinai and the return of the territory to Egyptian control, as well as the opening of the strategic Suez Canal, the main source of foreign exchange in the land of the pharaohs.

What purpose does the corridor serve?

Its goal was to stop the flow of weapons and materials from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, as well as to complicate the movement of people between both territories. However, recent investigations indicate that Hamas was partially able to build its current arsenal from unexploded Israeli military materials. The corridor is home to the Rafah border crossing, the only connection to the outside world that is still not controlled by Israel and which Tel Aviv also seeks to de facto control.

Why does Israel want to control it?

In recent months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly expressed interest in gaining control of the Philadelphia Corridor. “It should be in our hands and it should be closed. It is clear that no other agreement can guarantee the demilitarization we seek,” said the prime minister, who is also determined to end the Hamas government and eradicate the organization that has controlled the sector since winning elections in 2006. If he achieves his goal, it will mean that Tel Aviv will permanently occupy areas of Gaza that were still part of Palestinian territory. “Control of the Philadelphia Corridor effectively cuts off Gaza’s only land link with Egypt, potentially blocking underground traffic between both regions through a network of tunnels,” they point out from Israel.

What is Egypt’s role in the corridor?

Following the withdrawal of Israeli troops in 2005 and the start of the blockade, Egypt assumed responsibility for the corridor, the only link from Gaza to the outside world that was not previously in Israeli hands. Since 2005, Egypt has had full control of the corridor. If the Israeli army enters the area, the treaty will be violated.

Cairo initially sent – with Israeli permission – 750 soldiers to patrol the corridor, whose initial responsibility on the other side of the border fell to the Palestinian Authority. After Hamas came to power in the Gaza Strip, it was the Islamist organization that led the Palestinian side. The Egyptian regime, first led by Hosni Mubarak and now led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, collaborated with Israeli authorities in the siege of the Gaza Strip. In recent years, at the height of the campaign against a jihadist insurgency in northern Sinai, the Egyptian military has destroyed tunnels dug under the corridor and used as smuggling routes for materials and weapons, but Israel insists they have not been neutralized.

If he succeeds in gaining control, what will Israel do?

Israel’s plan is to station troops and weapons along the corridor, confirming its return to the area two decades after its withdrawal. Egypt has so far rejected this possibility, aware that accepting Israel’s strategy would fuel popular discontent and be seen as a new concession to the Netanyahu government on an extremely sensitive issue that Palestinians denounce as insatiable expansionism, and aware that Tel Aviv is seeking ousting. Palestinians from Gaza.

How will Israel act in northern Gaza?

This is one of the unknown events of the military operation, which the next day divided the members of the Israeli cabinet, consisting of center, right and far-right parties. For some, the goal is a permanent occupation of the sector with the creation of new Israeli settlements similar to those already dismantled in 2005; while others are determined to hand over control of the territory to the Palestinian Authority with the commitment that Israeli security forces will be able to carry out incursions and attacks as they do in the West Bank. Tel Aviv has considered creating another corridor in the northern Gaza Strip, another buffer zone that would supposedly prevent further attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian groups on southern Israeli cities. However, both the United States and the European Union rejected any plan that would further reduce the area of ​​Gaza.