Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the border between Gaza and Egypt must be controlled by Israel to guarantee Israel’s goal of demilitarizing Palestine.
The Philadelphi Corridor, a buffer zone along Gaza’s border with Egypt, is a focal point and Netanyahu insists it must be in Israeli hands for the demilitarization of the area.
“The Philadelphi Corridor – or to put it more correctly, the southern stoppage point (of Gaza) – must be in our hands. It must be shut. It is clear that any other arrangement would not ensure the demilitarization that we seek,” he stated.
“The war is at its height,” the Israeli Prime Minister stated at a press conference on Saturday, 30 December. He confirmed the Israeli army chief’s assessment that the war on Gaza will continue for “many more months.”
The invasion, which Netanyahu anticipates lasting for months, involves pressing further into central and southern Gaza.
If achieved, this would reverse Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, placing it under exclusive Israeli control after years under Hamas.
Amid increasing international criticism of Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave the green light for an urgent arms sale of USD 147.5 million (EGP 4 billion) of equipment to Israel on 30 December.
“Given the urgency of Israel’s defensive needs, the secretary notified Congress that he had exercised his delegated authority to determine an emergency existed necessitating the immediate approval of the transfer,” the State Department said.
This marks the second such sale within a month, highlighting the continued support provided by the United States to Israel throughout its assault on Gaza despite increasing public outcry and worldwide urgent calls for a ceasefire.
THE CONFLICT SO FAR
After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.
At least 21,822 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including nearly 8,800 children — and over 56,451 others injured. Meanwhile, at least 319 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and over 38,00 have been injured.
The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been de-escalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and limited aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.
Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, expressed unconditional support for Israel at the outset of the war, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza and concerns of possible war crimes. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire on 8 December, and the Security Council issued a resolution calling for unrestricted aid to Gaza on 18 December.