IDF proposes cutting Hamas lifeline via Rafah underground barrier

Wall to be erected on Egyptian side of border with Gaza using technological means to alert attempts to dig tunnels or otherwise enable smuggling of weapons to Strip; without it the military says, Hamas would be able to rebuild military capabilities
Yossi Yehushua |
Israel has been proposing to build a deep underground barrier on the Egyptian side of the Gaza border to prevent weapons being smuggled into the Strip. Israeli defense officials believe Hamas has been bringing in its weapons via underground tunnels beneath Rafah and suggest the wall be built using the advanced technological means built into the war beneath the Israel-Gaza border.
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Defense Minister Yoav Gallant discussed the proposal to build the war with the cooperation of Egypt and some American funding, with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during his visit last week.
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יואב גלנט, לויד אוסטין
יואב גלנט, לויד אוסטין
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
(Photo: Alberto Pizzoli / AFP)
The wall would plan a distance of up to 13 kilometers (8 miles) along the Gaza-Egypt border compared to the 65-kilometer (40 mile) wall between Israel and the Strip. That underground defense held well on October 7, unlike the border fence above, and has never been breached by a Hamas tunnel. It includes technological systems that among other attributes, can detect digging nearby. When it was built after the 2014 round of fighting, it cut through the tunnels that Hamas had dug and disabled them.
Israel proposes that such detections of tunnel digging or any other threat, would be relayed both to the Israeli and Egyptian sides, to allow the IDF to operate to thwart Hamas efforts in the area.
The Egyptians oppose Israeli ground operations near Rafah, fearing that mass numbers of Palestinians would breach their border to escape the fighting. They also insist that no weapons smuggling had taken place through the Rafah border crossing, despite evidence to the contrary.
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 משאיות של סיוע הומניטארי לרצועת עזה - מלחמה חרבות ברזל
 משאיות של סיוע הומניטארי לרצועת עזה - מלחמה חרבות ברזל
Aid transported into Gaza through the Egyptian border at Rafah
(PHoto: Alexi J. Rosenfeld /Getty Images)
The proposed wall would be built on the Egyptian side of the border and not on the Gazan side, where Hamas would be able to obstruct the work. It would also not require a significant IDF operation in Rafah beyond air strikes.
The IDF and the war cabinet have not yet decided on a ground offensive in Rafah after the targeted killing of Hamas's financier Subhi Ferwana responsible for the transfer of tens of millions of dollars to the terror group. The Hamas Rafah Brigade commander was also targeted but his fate remains unclear. Any decision to extend the fighting there would take into account the Egyptian position.
But the military believes the war cannot end before the Hamas lifeline is eliminated, otherwise the terror group would be able to rehabilitate its military capacity quickly. Cutting it by erecting the underground barrier wall could be the solution both Israel and Egypt could accept.
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