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

The Israel Defense Forces have seized operational control over the Philadelphi Corridor, a 14-kilometer (8.7 mile) strip of land along Gaza’s border with Egypt, IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari announced at a briefing Wednesday night.

The forces also found a 1.5-kilometer tunnel with a tunnel shaft just 100 meters (328 feet) from the Rafah Crossing, filled with dozens of anti-tank missiles and other weapons.


Earlier this month (May 7) the IDF seized control over the Gaza side of the Rafah Crossing into Egypt, through which much of the humanitarian aid was delivered into the enclave in recent months.

When Israel seized control over the area, Egypt closed its side of the Rafah crossing and has since refused to allow passage, despite having told the United States it would reopen the site.

Hagari told reporters that 20 terrorist smuggling tunnels and some 82 tunnel shafts were found by Israeli forces in the area. The cross-border tunnels and the tunnel shafts will be destroyed, Hagari said.

Over the past several weeks, the 401st Brigade Combat Team, in cooperation with the Yahalom Unit and Unit 504, have been operating under Division 162 in eastern Rafah in southern Gaza to locate terrorist infrastructure and tunnel routes.

So far, during the soldiers’ operations, many terrorists have been eliminated, and dozens of Hamas terrorist infrastructure sites have been destroyed.

During their operations and in accordance with specific intelligence, Israeli forces found a tunnel shaft located just 100 meters (328 feet) from the Rafah Crossing.

The tunnel shaft led to an underground tunnel route used by the Hamas terrorist organization to carry out attacks and operations against IDF troops.

The 1.5 kilometer-long (one mile) tunnel branches into several different routes and at various depths, with several blast doors, the IDF said.

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.

Israeli forces also found dozens of rocket launchers planted along the border by Hamas, which the IDF destroyed.

The Philadelphi Corridor was created in 2006 as a buffer zone intended to prevent weapons smuggling through Sinai into Gaza.

Although the Egyptian-Gazan border area was designated as a demilitarized zone under the 1978 Camp David Accords, the designation was ignored by the Hamas terrorist organization that seized control over Gaza in 2007.

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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.