This road has become strategic again since the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on October 7 and the start of the war in the Gaza Strip.
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A map “evacuation” before the offensive. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked his army to submit a “combined plan” of“evacuation” civilians from Rafah and “destruction” of Hamas. An Israeli offensive in this last city in the south of the enclave while around 1.3 million Palestinians, the majority displaced by the fighting, are crowded there.
It remains to be seen where Palestinian civilians can be evacuated: to Egyptian Sinai? Another question, will the Israeli army take control of the “Philadelphia corridor”? The latter, also known as the “Saladin Corridor”, is the road which borders Gaza’s border with Egypt. It is a strip of land 14 kilometers long and 100 meters wide. With the ongoing war in the Palestinian enclave between Israel and Hamas, this road has once again become a strategic issue for the Jewish state.
This corridor was established as a buffer zone after the Camp David agreements, recalls the Lebanese daily The Orient-The day. These agreements signed by Egypt and Israel in September 1978, followed by a peace treaty the following year, put an end to thirty years of conflict between the two countries. Held by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967, the Sinai region was returned to Egypt but Israel continues to control the corridor. The Jewish state present in Gaza could thus protect itself from an attack and avoid the circulation of weapons between the Palestinian enclave and Egypt. This name “Philadelphia” would also be linked to a code name used by the Israeli army for the border area. When the Hebrew State decided to leave Gaza in 2005, the corridor came under Egyptian control, recalls The cross. By regaining control of the border with Gaza, Cairo is committed to fighting against arms trafficking.
Tensions with Egypt
With the war against Hamas, control of this route once again becomes essential for the Jewish state. “The Philadelphia Corridor must be in our hands and under our control, and any arrangement other than that will not be accepted by Israel”, declared Benjamin Netanyahu in a press conference on December 30. Enough to rekindle tensions between the two countries. “Any Israeli move aimed at occupying the Philadelphia axis in the Gaza Strip will pose a grave and serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli relations”declared the head of the Egyptian General Information Organization, Diaa Rashwan, at the end of January.
The pressure is intensifying with the order given to the Israeli army to prepare an offensive on Rafah, therefore close to the corridor. At the end of January, Diaa Rashwan explained that the borders of her country “will not be taken hostage by a group of extremist Israeli leaders”. The Philadelphia corridor therefore appears to be a “Red line” for the Egyptian authorities who add that they refuse to see Gazans become refugees in Egyptian Sinai.