IDF in control of Philadelphi Corridor, 20 tunnels found
Israeli troops operating in eastern Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, at the border with Egypt, May 2024. Credit: IDF.

Soldiers have so far located around 20 tunnels along the 8.7-mile-long border area between Gaza and Egypt.

By Joshua Marks
May 30, 2024

Israeli troops have taken “operational control” of the Philadelphi Corridor, the 8.7-mile-long border area between Gaza and Egypt, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Wednesday evening.

Israeli forces have so far uncovered 20 tunnels underneath it, he added.

“We are investigating these tunnels and neutralizing them,” said Hagari.

During the operation, led by the IDF’s 162nd Division, forces also found dozens of ready-to-fire rocket launchers and launch pits from which Hamas fired rockets and mortars shells into Israel.

“Hamas exploited the Philadelphi Corridor, using it to build this infrastructure just dozens of meters from the border with Egypt so that we would not strike them,” said Hagari.

“This infrastructure was located between 10 and 40 meters from the border, specifically so that Israel would not strike near the fence with Egypt. I remind you that in recent weeks, Hamas has fired about 70 rockets and mortars from the Rafah area.”

Hagari described the Philadelphi Corridor as Hamas’s “lifeline,” through which the terror group smuggled weapons and supplies into the Gaza Strip.

The IDF spokesperson also revealed that in recent weeks, troops had uncovered a tunnel under eastern Rafah that was 1.5 kilometers in length (nearly one mile).

“The entrance shaft to the infrastructure was located about 100 meters from the Rafah Crossing [with Egypt],” said Hagari. “The route branched into several sub-routes and was used by Hamas terrorists for movement, transferring weapons and initiating terrorist attacks. Inside the route, we found large quantities of weapons, including anti-tank missiles, AK-47s, explosives and grenades.”

The tunnel had been destroyed by the 162nd Division’s 401st Armored Brigade, he added.

Israeli forces moved into eastern Rafah on May 6, taking operational control of the Rafah Crossing and other key areas, including the section of the Salah al-Din Road that runs through the city. In the weeks since then, the operation has expanded into other areas of the last Hamas stronghold.

Destroying the four Hamas battalions entrenched there is essential to winning the war, Jerusalem has insisted, to prevent Hamas from regrouping and threatening Israel again.

Hagari also emphasized the importance of the war goal of freeing the 125 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza.

”Hamas is in Rafah. Hamas has been holding our hostages in Rafah, which is why our forces are operating in Rafah. Hamas is holding our hostages in living hell across our border in Gaza, including in Rafah. We will not stop fighting for their freedom,” he said.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi toured the Rafah area on Wednesday, holding a situational assessment with the head of IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, the commander of the 162nd Division, Brig. Gen. Itzik Cohen, and other commanders.

During the briefing, Hagari said that Halevi was “impressed by the way [the soldiers] fight with determination and professionalism. He talked with them, referred to the numerous operational achievements that are leading to dismantling Hamas, and emphasized creating the conditions for the return of the hostages.”

Three terrorists who fired at Israeli troops in the Rafah area were killed in an Air Force strike over the past 24 hours, the IDF updated on Thursday. Troops also located terrorist infrastructure, a large number of weapons, including anti-tank missile launch posts, tunnel shafts, a weapons storage facility and explosives.IDF operational activity in the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Israeli forces are also continuing to operate against Hamas elsewhere in the coastal enclave, including in the Jabalia area in the north, where ground troops found weapons, including AK-47s and ammunition. Terrorists who approached and threatened troops were eliminated by tank fire and in another incident, two terror operatives who fired projectiles at soldiers were killed in an airstrike.

In central Gaza, several terrorists were eliminated with tank fire and a weapons storage facility was located.

Furthermore, over the past day, the IAF struck over 50 terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including military structures and terrorist infrastructure.

Hamas low on long-range rockets

Hamas is down to dozens of long-range rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and the center of Israel, according to IDF estimates.

In addition, the terror group’s overall rocket arsenal at all ranges has been reduced from the thousands at the start of the war to the hundreds.

The IDF has destroyed numerous weapons production facilities, making it harder for Hamas to replenish its supply of rockets. Israeli forces have also located and demolished many rocket launchers in recent months.

In a reminder that Hamas can still target the Jewish state’s major population centers, the terrorist group on Sunday fired an eight-rocket barrage at Tel Aviv and the central region for the first time in four months, rattling millions of residents used to a period of quiet.

The rocket fire reached as far north as the Sharon region, sending residents in the city of Kfar Saba running for shelter for the first time since the war started on Oct. 7.

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