Israel military says it has seized entire Gaza border along Egypt

Israel’s military said Wednesday it had seized control of a strategic corridor that runs along the length of Gaza border with Egypt, an objective Israel had said was necessary in its bid to destroy Hamas as part of the ongoing war, now in its eighth month.

The capture of the area, known as the Philadelphi Corridor, gives Israel control over a strip of land it says is awash in smuggling tunnels that have funneled weapons and other goods for Hamas – even under a yearslong blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.

The move comes as Israel has deepened its incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands seeking shelter from fighting elsewhere had been displaced.

The capture of the corridor could complicate Israel’s relations with Egypt, which has complained over Israel’s advance toward its border, including when Israel took over the Rafah border crossing, the only crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Egypt’s state-linked Israel Al-Qahera News, citing a “high-level source”, reported that Israel is using claims of tunnels under the border as cover for its offensive against Hamas.

“There are no communications with the Israeli side regarding the allegations of the existence of tunnels on the border of Gaza and Egypt,” the source told Al-Qahera.

Xi ‘deeply pained’

In Beijing, President Xi Jinping told his Egyptian counterpart on Wednesday that China was “deeply pained” by the “extremely severe” situation in Gaza, as Beijing hosts Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and several other Arab leaders.

The talks between Xi, Sisi and other dignitaries are aimed at building consensus between Beijing and the Arab states.