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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at a briefing Saturday night that “it’s clear that there is only one option, what I refer to as the “southern blockage” — it’s clear that we will not finish this war without closing this hole, because otherwise we will eliminate Hamas, we will demilitarize Gaza, and then afterward other operatives, other military hardware, other murderous equipment will enter through this hole, so it’s clear we must close this.”

But the prime minister stopped short of saying the IDF would unilaterally seize control of the 15-kilometer Gaza-Egypt buffer zone called the ‘Philadelphi Corridor,’ as was reported this weekend by The Wall Street Journal.

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“There are several ways in which to do this and we are examining these,” he said. “We have not yet reached a decision, except for this one thing: this opening must be closed.”

According to the WSJ report, Israel informed Cairo that Israel Defense Forces plan to retake or least, restore its participation in controlling Gaza’s border with Egypt in order to end weapons smuggling into the enclave by the Hamas terrorist organization.

“The Philadelphi Corridor has to be in our hands, it has to be closed,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already emphasized at a news briefing weeks ago, following the October 7th invasion of southern Israel by Hamas. Terrorists led by the Iranian proxy slaughtered more than 1,200 people in dozens of communities and several military bases along the border on that day, and kidnapped 250 others who were dragged into captivity in Gaza.

The Philadelphi Corridor is a narrow 15-kilometer buffer zone located between Israel and Egypt that was established in early 1982 with the transfer of the Sinai Peninsula from Israeli to Egyptian control. Palestinian Authority officials have shared control over the area.

It became clear during and after the massacre, when Israel began its Swords of Iron war to end the existential threat posed by Hamas, that the terrorist organization has acquired massive amounts of weapons and ordnance, despite the blockade imposed by Israel, and allegedly by Egypt, to prevent that very scenario.

Since those weapons could not have been smuggled into Gaza through its borders with Israel, there is only one other way they could have been acquired: by smuggling the arms through Gaza’s border with Egypt.

IDF control over the border would restore Israel’s ability to prevent that smuggling and ensure the security of its population. It would also restrict Gaza’s connection to Egypt and the rest of the Arab world by requiring Israeli permission to use the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Retaking control over the buffer zone would mean Israel could block the Hamas tunnels in the area, ending the import of weapons and the ability of wanted Hamas terrorists to escape, possibly bringing Israeli hostages along with them.

Negotiations have been taking place between Israel and Egypt over the issue, but thus far Cairo has not agreed to allowing Israel to retake control over the buffer zone, nor has it agreed to sharing that control with the Jewish State.

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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 Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.