Israel Takes Control of Gaza-Egypt Border As Fighting Intensifies in Rafah

Israel Takes Control of Gaza-Egypt Border As Fighting Intensifies in Rafah

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Israeli forces have gained control over the buffer zone along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, the military announced on Wednesday. This move grants Israel effective control over Gaza’s entire land border.

Despite an order from the International Court of Justice to cease attacks, Israel continued its deadly raids in Rafah, where half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents had sought refuge.

In a televised briefing, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated that Israeli forces now have “operational” control over the “Philadelphi Corridor,” a 14 km-long corridor that Hamas previously used to smuggle weapons.

Though Hagari did not elaborate on the term “operational control,” an Israeli military official confirmed the presence of Israeli troops along parts of the corridor.

The southern border with Egypt was Gaza’s only land border not directly controlled by Israel until now. On Wednesday, Israeli tanks conducted raids into Rafah, moving into the city’s center for the first time.

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Despite the World Court’s demand for an immediate halt to the assault, Israel continued its operations, targeting areas such as Tel Al-Sultan and Yibna.

Palestinian health officials reported that 19 civilians were killed in Israeli airstrikes and shelling across Gaza. Deputy Director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in Rafah, Haitham al Hams, reported distress calls from displaced residents targeted by drones.

Health Minister Majed Abu Raman urged the U.S. to pressure Israel to open the Rafah crossing for aid, as patients in Gaza face critical shortages of medical treatment.

Israel’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi indicated that fighting in Gaza would persist through 2024, emphasizing Israel’s aim to end Hamas rule and prevent further attacks. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Israel to develop a post-war plan for Gaza to avoid chaos and a potential Hamas resurgence.

The Gaza Health Ministry reported over 36,000 Palestinian deaths due to the Israeli offensive. The conflict began after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israel on October 7, resulting in approximately 1,200 Israeli deaths and over 250 hostages taken by Hamas.

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