Smotrich proposes full Israeli occupation of Rafah, retaking Philadelphi Corridor



Sun, 19 May 2024 - 03:47 GMT


Sun, 19 May 2024 - 03:47 GMT

Destruction caused by the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza - WAFA

Destruction caused by the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza - WAFA

CAIRO – 19 May 2024: Bezalel Smotrich, Israel's extremist Finance Minister and Chairman of Religious Zionism, has advocated for a complete military occupation of the city of Rafah near the Egyptian border, according to Israeli reports.

During a faction meeting in northern Israel on Sunday, Smotrich suggested that Israeli forces retake control of the Philadelphi corridor, a 14-kilometer buffer zone along the Egypt-Gaza border.

Previously, Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) cautioned that Israeli plans to regain control of the corridor would violate the annexes of the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.

Smotrich also called for a permanent military presence in Gaza.

Additionally, he urged Netanyahu to issue an ultimatum to Hezbollah, demanding they cease firing and withdraw from the border, or face a substantial incursion by Israeli forces in Lebanon, including a ground operation.

In response to Smotrich's remarks, Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the opposition Yisrael Beiteinu Party, raised questions regarding the proposed establishment of a security zone in Lebanon.

Lieberman pondered whether the responsibility would fall upon reservists who have been actively serving for over seven months or regular soldiers who have not returned home since the conflict's onset.

Smotrich's comments followed a statement by War Cabinet member Benny Gantz on Saturday, in which he threatened to leave the government if Netanyahu fails to announce a long-term plan for Gaza by June 8.

"The choice is in your hands," Gantz directly addressed Netanyahu.

Netanyahu argued that Gantz's ultimatum would lead to "defeat for Israel, abandoning most of the hostages, leaving Hamas intact, and establishing a Palestinian state."

Deep into Rafah

Israeli forces have issued further evacuation orders in Rafah city, indicating preparations for a large-scale operation. Egypt and the international community have rejected this action.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, stated that about 800,000 Palestinians have been displaced from Rafah due to ongoing Israeli ground assaults.

On May 7, Israeli forces entered Rafah city and took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, blocking the primary entry point for essential aid into the strip from Egypt, world countries, and relief agencies.

Last week, an informed Egyptian source emphasized Cairo's refusal to coordinate with Israel concerning the crossing.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry held Israel accountable for the humanitarian catastrophe faced by Palestinians in Gaza.

Shoukry emphasized that Israeli control over the Palestinian side of the crossing, coupled with military operations endangering the lives of humanitarian workers and truck drivers, remains the primary obstacle hindering aid delivery.

Rafah, situated near the border with Egypt, was home to over a million Gazans before the incursion, most of whom were displaced by the war.

Israel insists that the city harbors the last battalions of Hamas in Gaza.

Diaa Rashwan, Head of the SIS, previously stated that an operation in Rafah would prove ineffective in eliminating Hamas leaders or safely rescuing hostages, and it would jeopardize decades of peace between Egypt and Israel.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal quoted Egyptian officials as saying that Cairo is considering downgrading its diplomatic relations with Israel, including the potential withdrawal of Cairo's ambassador from Tel Aviv.



Leave a Comment

Be Social