The war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and the Rafah offensive provoke global outrage

The Israeli military says it has established “operational control” over the Philadelphia Corridor, a 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) buffer zone on the Egypt-Gaza border.

“In recent days, Israel established operational control over the Philadelphia Corridor,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari said at a press conference on Wednesday.

He said the military was carrying out an operation in the corridor and that 20 tunnels they had found there were being “neutralised”.

The IDF clarified that “operational control” meant that it had “full control of the corridor in terms of intelligence gathering and fire range” even though there was a “small area near the sea where we are not physically present.”

Earlier on Wednesday, an Israeli official said troops had achieved “tactical” control over the corridor, but that did not mean “Israel had boots on the ground” in its entirety.

The official said there are 20 tunnels crossing into Egypt, some of which are new, and Egypt has been informed. According to the official, the IDF also found 82 tunnel access points along the corridor.

CNN cannot independently verify Israeli claims of control.

Israel intends to cut off the corridor from Egypt because it believes smugglers have long resorted to the enclave's network of underground tunnels to bring in commercial goods, people and weapons. Hagari said Hamas has used the corridor to smuggle weapons and “took advantage” of the space to build infrastructure “dozens of meters from the border with Egypt so that we don't attack them.”

The IDF says it has also found mile-long “terrorist infrastructure” in eastern Rafah, the entrance to which is 100 meters from the Rafah crossing. Hagari said that this route was used to transfer weapons and that the Israeli army found and destroyed weapons there.

Some context: Israel began a ground operation in Rafah against Hamas earlier this month, crossing the Philadelphia corridor and taking the Palestinian side of the border with Egypt.

Egypt has strongly opposed the operation on its border. On Monday, an Egyptian security personnel was killed on the Gaza border in a shootout involving Egyptian and Israeli soldiers. Egyptian state-affiliated Al-Qahera News said “Palestinian resistance” fighters were also involved.

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