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Israel Radio claims Tel Aviv close to reaching deal with Cairo to take control of Egypt-Gaza border area

February 1, 2024 at 8:42 pm

Palestinians are seen at the Egypt-Gaza border as they continue their daily lives under harsh conditions in Rafah, Gaza on January 18, 2024. [Abed Zagout – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s Army Radio claimed on Thursday that Tel Aviv is close to reaching an agreement with Cairo to take control of a buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, also known as the Philadelphi Axis, with Israel pledging to give Palestinians enough time to evacuate Rafah, Anadolu Agency reports.

Both sides have been in talks in recent weeks to resolve disagreements between the two countries, with Israel seeking control of the Philadelphi Axis and Egypt opposing this due to concerns about the current situation in Gaza, Army Radio said.

However, Cairo has not reached or is nearing an agreement with Israel to hand over a buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza, known as the Philadelphi Axis, Egyptian media reported late Thursday.

The Al-Qahera News, which is close to Egyptian authorities, quoted an unnamed “high-level security source” who denied the reports.

The source denied “nearing an agreement with Israel on Rafah and the Salah Al-Din/Philadelphi Corridor” and ruled out “the installation of any technological devices in the Corridor.”

READ: Israel tells Egypt of plan to carry out military operation in Rafah, media says

The source also rejected “any new security arrangements for the Corridor.”

The Philadelphi Corridor is a 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) long narrow strip of land that serves as a buffer zone on the Egypt-Gaza border and is guaranteed by the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty of 1979.

Egypt said earlier any Israeli attempt to occupy the border area between Gaza and Egypt, known as the Philadelphi Corridor, would threaten the bilateral Israeli-Egyptian relations.

However, the Army Radio claimed that Israel promised Egypt not to intervene militarily in the buffer zone until the Palestinians had ample time to evacuate Rafah to other parts of Gaza.

There are over 1.4 million people in Rafah, the majority of who live in tents near Egypt’s border, according to UN figures.

Egypt’s main concern is reducing the flow of Palestinians into Egyptian territory in the event of an Israeli military action in the area, the Radio claimed, adding that Israeli authorities have yet to decide whether to allow the population to relocate to northern Gaza or Khan Yunis.

Under the agreement, the Radio further claimed, an unnamed Gulf country will likely fund the construction of an underground wall to protect from tunnels in the area, but Egypt must approve this suggestion.

The Israeli and Egyptian sides have not issued any official statements on the report.

Israel launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip on 7 October, killing at least 27,019 Palestinians and injuring 66,139. Nearly 1,200 Israelis believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

The Israeli offensive has left 85 per cent of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

READ: Egypt rejects Israeli request to monitor buffer zone with Gaza, sources say