Photo Credit: Ahmad Khateib / Flash 90
Palestinian Authority officers fail to stop hordes of Gaza Arabs from crossing into Egypt through the Philadelphi Corridor in Rafah, June 29, 2006.

Egyptian sources familiar with Cairo’s efforts to reduce the escalation of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip on Sunday told the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Egypt “sent severe warnings to the occupation government (that’s Israel to you and me) against carrying out any military operations or activities in the Salah al-Din (Philadelphi) corridor adjacent to the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, should Israel decide to initiate a ground invasion of the Strip.”

The Egyptians cited an article of the Camp David Accords that says Israel must seek Egyptian consent before intervening militarily in the Gaza Strip.


The Philadelphi Corridor is a narrow strip of land, 8.7 miles in length, along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Under the Camp David provisions, it was established as a buffer zone controlled and patrolled by Israel, to prevent smuggling of weapons, ammunition, and terrorists from Egypt to Gaza. Needless to say, the Gazans––in cooperation with the Egyptians––immediately went about digging countless tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor which are in use to this day.

IDF soldiers uncovered electric cables in a seven-meter-deep tunnel with wooden walls, near the Philadelphi Corridor along the Egypt-Gaza border, April 5, 2005. / IDF

Following the 1994 Oslo Accords, Israel retained the security corridor, but after PM Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Philadelphi deal with Egypt was terminated. Now the Egyptians are reluctant to relinquish control over the north side of the border zone to the invading IDF.

And it didn’t help that an Israeli warplane by mistake hit a border watchtower. According to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, citing an Egyptian source, Cairo “notified the responsible authorities in Tel Aviv, through joint coordination links, of its rejection of the apology for targeting one of the Egyptian army’s watchtowers on the border strip last week.”

According to the same source, “Egyptian estimates indicate that targeting one of its military sites on the border was not by mistake, but rather comes within the framework of provocative actions, to push Cairo to take a unilateral decision on its part to disrupt the operation of the crossing, and then confront Palestinian anger.”

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Saturday described the attack as “an impulsive reaction we may regret later.”

El-Sisi also referred to the drone attack from the Red Sea on the Sinai town of Taba, saying, “On Friday there were drones that entered Egyptian airspace in Taba and were shot down… Whatever place they came from, I warned before that the expansion of the scope of the conflict is not in the interest of the region. It will be a time bomb that will hurt us all. That is why I say to you: Please, Egypt is a sovereign state, and I hope that we all respect its sovereignty and status.”

No one in Egypt or anywhere else has any doubt that the attack drones were sent either by Iranian proxy Houthis in Yemen, or Iranian Revolutionary Guards vessels in the Red Sea, and were likely aimed at Eilat, but missed.

Meanwhile, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed cited a different Egyptian source that said Egypt “conveyed clear messages to the leadership of the Hamas movement, that it will be more flexible to thwart the Israeli side’s attempts to obstruct and disrupt the entry of aid or slow down its pace.”

The source also revealed that “the messages included assurances to the movement’s leadership that Egypt refuses to adopt any perceptions that condemn the Palestinian resistance, or label it as terrorism.”

El-Sisi said on Saturday that Egypt is “keen to play a positive role in alleviating the severity of the crisis by releasing prisoners and hostages in the Gaza Strip,” cautioning: “Not everything is talked about… I mean, when it ends, we will announce it.”

The source revealed that Cairo is “dealing with caution with the Israelis’ desire to prepare for a new prisoner deal, as well as their willingness to pay a price described as high in exchange for the release of the movement’s largest number of prisoners.”

The source noted that Cairo “fears that it will be implicated in a process of misinformation and deception as part of its military movements, and Egypt will bear responsibility after that.”

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