Netanyahu seeks full control of Gaza's Philadelphi Route

Philadelphi Route
(Photo: Twitter/X)
GAZA – On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel must fully take control of the Philadelphi Route, also referred to as Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and Gaza to ensure disarmament in the area, Khaberni reported.اضافة اعلان

Netanyahu added in a press conference, “Philadelphi Route, or more precisely the southern stopping point in Gaza, must be under our control. It must be closed. Any other arrangement will not guarantee the disarmament we seek.”

So what is the Philadelphia Route?The Philadelphia Corridor is located between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. It is 14 km long, extending from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Karam Abu Salem Crossing in the south, and is located within a demilitarized zone under the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel in 1979.

Under the Camp David Accords, this route is a demilitarized zone that was under Israeli control before they withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The agreement came after the Knesset approved a one-sided decision in 2004 to withdraw all Israeli forces from Gaza, which was implemented in August 2005.

In the same year, Israel signed with Egypt a protocol that did not cancel or amend the peace agreement but limited the military presence of both sides in that area.

After two years, Hamas took control of the Philadelphia route. And ever since, Egypt has tightened its security grip on its border with Gaza.

What do the Camp David Accords entail?
The agreement allows Israeli presence within the Philadelphia Route, which is located in Zone “D” under the First Annex, the Israeli Withdrawal Protocol and Security Arrangements, which allows for limited Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) presence of four infantry battalions, field fortifications, and UN observers.

The IOF does not include any tanks, artillery or missiles except for land-to-air missiles. The IOF in this area can have up to 180 military vehicles and a total of no more than 4,000 infantries.

In Zone “J” of the agreement, the presence of UN forces and Egyptian civilian police is allowed. In Zone “B”, Egyptian border units of four battalions equipped with light weapons are allowed. Zone “A” has military forces from an infantry brigade, an armored brigade, and artillery battalions totaling no more than 22,000 Egyptian soldiers.

The IOFs controlled Zone “D”, including the Philadelphia Route, until their withdrawal and handover to the Palestinian Authority in 2005. A new agreement called the “Philadelphia Agreement” was signed to arrange for the presence of Egyptian border guards.

The agreement allowed for Israeli-Egyptian security coordination. The agreement also specified that the Egyptian presence in this area is “to combat terrorism and infiltration across the border” and is not intended for any military purpose. While maintaining Zone “J” as a demilitarized zone.

750 members of the Egyptian forces patrol the border armed with light weapons and armored vehicles, in addition to an unspecified number of unarmed police officers.

The Camp David Accords also allowed the division of the city of Rafah into two parts. Israel erected a wall of concrete and metal seven kilometers long and eight meters high to isolate the two divisions.

In November 2005, Israel signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority to regulate movement, including the Rafah crossing that connects Egypt and Gaza. The agreement indicated that the Rafah crossing would be operated by the Palestinian Authority on its side and by Egypt on its side by international standards and laws.

The Rafah Crossing is for Palestinian ID holders, with prior notification to the IOF and approvals from the Palestinian authorities, provided that the Palestinian Authority works to prevent the crossing of weapons or explosives and continues security coordination services.

Since November 2005, the Rafah Crossing has been managed under the Palestinian-Israeli agreement. They deployed about 90 European observers to assist in border monitoring, but these observers left in June 2014.

Why does Israel want to control the Philadelphia Route?
An analysis published by the Israeli channel “I24NEWS” indicated that the Israeli army’s move towards the Philadelphia Routes aims to separate the Gaza Strip from the Sinai Desert and Egypt.

While the IOF’s move towards the axis aims to separate the Gaza Strip from the Sinai Desert and Egypt, Israel seeks to secure its southern borders to prevent it from becoming a crossing for Palestinian factions to obtain weapons, which requires continued cooperation with Egypt.

If Netanyahu’s plan is accomplished, such a move would represent a de facto reversal of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, putting the strip under exclusive Israeli control.