Philadelphi Route


Philadelphi Route

The Philadelphi Route (corridor / buffer zone) was an IDF code name for the strip of land along the border between Egypt and Israel. Under the Oslo Accords, the portion in the Gaza Strip remained under direct Israeli military control.

Border control and smuggling

One purpose of the Philadelphi Route was to prevent the movement of illegal materials (including weapons, ammunition, illegal drugs) and people between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Palestinians in cooperation with some Egyptians have according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs built smuggling tunnels under the Philadelphi Route to move these into the Gaza Strip. [http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terror+Groups/Weapon+Smuggling+Tunnels+in+Rafah+May+2004.htm]

Most of the tunnels are based in both sides of Rafah. Since the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada, the Israeli Defence Forces began operating against the tunnels. IDF vehicles, soldiers and outposts were attacked by gunfire and anti-tank rockets from the southern buildings of Rafah, resulting in the demolition of many border-line houses and the erection of a fortification system which includes a steel anti-sniper wall and armored outposts (such as "New Termit" and "Hardon").

Many operations against smuggling tunnels were conducted. Most of the operations were undertaken under heavy fire, prompting the IDF to demolish buildings which were used as firing-positions for Palestinian snipers and RPG launchers. Houses in which tunnels were discovered were also demolished. More than 90 tunnels (up to April 2004) have been discovered and destroyed by IDF forces.

In May 2004, Operation Rainbow was undertaken, in part, to destroy the smuggling tunnels and damage the terrorist infrastructure in the area. The IDF confirmed that a number of Palestinian civilians were killed when accidentally entering the combat zone.Fact|date=January 2008

House demolition

Human Rights Watch has charged that the IDF used tunnels as a pretext to create a depopulated 'buffer zone' along the Gaza-Egypt border, resulting in the destruction of 1,600 homes by September 2004. [http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/gaza] In a report on house demolitions in Rafah, HRW argues that the IDF should have been able to detect and neutralize tunnels at the point where they cross underneath the border using technologies proven at the Korean DMZ and U.S.-Mexico border. [http://hrw.org/reports/2004/rafah1004/6.htm#_Toc84676187] The IDF clarified to HRW that the figure it gives of 90-100 tunnels found so far refers to tunnel "entrance shafts" rather than tunnels themselves. HRW described the practice of only destroying the entrance shafts as "puzzlingly ineffective ... [and] inconsistent with the supposed gravity of this longstanding threat." The IDF says that it doesn't have the capability to safely collapse the lateral portions of tunnels.

Control handed to Egypt

In September 2005, following Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, the IDF handed over control of the Philadelphi Route to the Egyptian army, which is now responsible for security and anti-smuggling action on the border. The European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah is responsible for monitoring the Rafah Border Crossing to Egypt.

Border breach, 2008

On January 23, 2008, Palestinian militants destroyed several parts of the wall dividing Gaza and Egypt in the town of Rafah. Thousands of Gazans moved across the Philadelphi Route into Egypt, in search of food and supplies. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered his troops to allow the Palestinians in due to the crisis, but to verify that they did not bring weapons back. [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7205668.stm|title=Egypt 'won't force Gazans back'|publisher=BBC News|date=23 January 2008|accessdate=2008-01-23]

See also

* Israeli Defence Forces
* Al-Aqsa Intifada
* Rafah Border Crossing
* Rafah
* Smuggling tunnels
* Israeli Gaza Strip Barrier

References

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/04/gazas_tunnels/html/1.stm In pictures: Searching for Gaza's tunnels]
* [http://www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt/docs/UN/OCHA/Rafah_insetA.pdf Part A] [http://www.reliefweb.int/hic-opt/docs/UN/OCHA/Rafah_insetB.pdf Part B] Satellite photos comparing 2001 to 2004.
* [http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/gaza Human Rights Watch report] on house demolitions in Rafah in expanding Philadelphi buffer zone.


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