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Israel Says Army Has ‘Operational Control’ of Key Egypt-Gaza Corridor

The Israeli army said on Wednesday it had gained “operational control” over the strategic Philadelphi corridor along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

“In recent days, our forces have taken operational control of the Philadelphi corridor,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised address, referring to the 14-kilometer (8.5-mile) buffer zone.

Israeli troops have “discovered around 20 tunnels in the Philadelphi area,” Hagari said, including a “sophisticated underground terrorist infrastructure east of Rafah, 1.5 kilometers long and around 100 meters from the Rafah crossing.”

Hagari said the corridor “was used by Hamas as an oxygen pipeline, through which it regularly transports weapons to the Gaza Strip.”

The seizure of the corridor comes weeks after Israeli forces took control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on May 7 as their ground assault on the far-southern Gaza city began.

The corridor had served as a buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, and Israeli troops patrolled it until 2005 when they were withdrawn as part of a broader disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

Tunnels that were used to smuggle goods including arms, cars, and exotic animals have been discovered underneath the corridor.

Palestinians have used tunnels to get around a blockade that Israel imposed when Hamas, designated a terror group by the United States and the European Union, came to power.

Egyptian authorities have previously flooded tunnels in an effort to end the trafficking.

Fighting raged in Rafah on Wednesday, residents and officials said, a day after Israeli tanks rolled into the center of the city.

The Gaza war was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,189 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,171 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

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