ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Egypt warns Israel that attempt to take over ‘Philadelphi Route’ will damage ties

Head of Egyptian state info service denounces accusations of arms smuggling via Gaza border as ‘lies,’ accuses Israel of trying to escape from ‘its successive failures’ in the war

A shepherd leads a flock of sheep in Rafah near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on January 16, 2024, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (AFP)
A shepherd leads a flock of sheep in Rafah near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on January 16, 2024, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (AFP)

Egypt on Monday warned Israel that any attempt to reinstitute security control of the strip of land that separates the Gaza Strip and Egypt will result in a “serious threat” to relations between the neighboring countries.

The so-called Philadelphi Route is a 14 kilometer (nine-mile) corridor that runs all along the Egypt-Gaza border. Israeli leaders have recently talked about retaking control of the corridor — from which the IDF withdrew when Israel left Gaza in 2005 — to prevent arms from being smuggled to Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza overland and via tunnels. Egypt fears that a military operation on the border could push large numbers of Palestinians into its territory.

“It must be strictly emphasized that any Israeli move in this direction will lead to a serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli relations,” Diaa Rashwan, head of Egypt’s State Information Service, said in an online statement.

Rashwan asserted the Egyptian border with Gaza was secure and railed at Israeli accusations that weapons were being smuggled from Egypt into the Strip, calling them “allegations and lies.” He accused the Israeli government of seeking to escape from “its successive failures in achieving its declared goals for the war” against Hamas, which Israel launched in response to the terror group’s deadly October 7 onslaught.

“The conclusion is that these false allegations do not serve the [Israel-Egypt] peace treaty that Egypt respects, and it demands that the Israeli side to show its respect for it also, and to stop making statements that would strain bilateral relations in light of the current inflammatory conditions,” he said.

“Egypt calls on everyone who talks about its failure to protect its borders to stop making these allegations, in light of the fact that it has a strong army capable of protecting its borders with all efficiency and discipline.”

On December 30, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the corridor “has to be in our hands” at the end of the war against Hamas to ensure that Gaza is and remains demilitarized, to prevent weapons from being smuggled through tunnels into the coastal enclave. The comments were denounced by an Egyptian lawmaker.

Netanyahu said on January 13 that this was “one possibility for what I call a southern barrier,” after the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Israel informed Egypt of plans to launch a military operation to retake control of the corridor.

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