Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
IDF troops operating in the Philadelphi Corridor.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told US envoy Brett McGurk on Tuesday night that Israel is willing to withdraw from the strategically important Philadelphi Corridor as part of a deal to free Israeli hostages from Hamas captivity in Gaza.

“A solution is required that will stop smuggling attempts and will cut off potential supply for Hamas and will enable the withdrawal of IDF troops from the corridor, as part of a framework for the release of hostages,” Gallant said.


The two discussed the importance of seizing the opportunity created to achieve an agreement for the return of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. They discussed the challenges that remain in achieving such an agreement, as well as possible solutions to address them.

The parties discussed the progress achieved in the dialogue held between Israel and Egypt under US leadership in accordance with the plan presented by the defense minister at the start of the war.

Gallant emphasized the importance of establishing a mechanism that would prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, thus cutting off Hamas supplies.

This past May, the IDF revealed about 50 tunnels leading from Egypt to Rafah in a report by Israel’s public broadcaster, KAN 11 News.

At least 20 tunnels crossed from Gaza into Egypt beneath the Philadelphi Corridor. The IDF reportedly has destroyed 14 of those passages thus far.

Some of the tunnels found by the IDF were so large they have been described as an underground “highway” big enough for vehicular traffic, including trucks.

Gallant added that the State of Israel supports the opening of the Rafah crossing but will not tolerate the return of Hamas to the area.

Egypt has refused to open its side of the Rafah crossing since Israeli forces expelled Hamas and seized control over the Gaza side of the passage. There are suspicions that some of the arms possessed by Hamas were “imported” from Iran via the Rafah crossing.

Gallant also expressed his appreciation to McGurk for his “personal involvement and leadership” on the hostage issue and thanked the US Administration for “standing with Israel in our efforts to return the hostages and achieve the goals of the war.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.