May 7, 2024 | Flash Brief

IDF Takes Control of Gaza Side of Rafah Crossing

May 7, 2024 | Flash Brief

IDF Takes Control of Gaza Side of Rafah Crossing

Latest Developments

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) captured the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing on May 7 in what they described as a “pinpoint operation.” The crossing, which lies two miles inside Gaza, is the main route for goods and people between the Hamas-controlled territory and Egypt. The IDF’s arrival at the crossing came one day after it called on civilians in the eastern part of the city of Rafah to evacuate ahead of a long-awaited Israeli offensive. Intelligence showed “that terrorists were using the crossing area for terror purposes,” the IDF stated. On May 5, terrorists fired projectiles from an area near the Rafah crossing, killing four IDF soldiers near the Israeli community of Kerem Shalom.

Expert Analysis

“The IDF operation in Rafah, and control of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing, is an important new stage in the war against Hamas. Hamas has used its control of the crossing and the border area with Egypt to hijack humanitarian aid and facilitate terrorism. It is important that Hamas be prevented from continuing to use the border to smuggle arms and control humanitarian aid.” — Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

“Hamas made a mistake when it did not accept multiple ceasefire deals from Israel. Instead, it believed international pressure, chiefly from the United States, would force Israel into a ceasefire on Hamas’s terms, thereby avoiding an invasion of Rafah. However, this strategy has failed, as Israel has taken over the crossing and now threatens to destroy Hamas’s vital smuggling routes to and from Egypt.” Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Rafah Crossing Is Key Hamas Smuggling Hub

Israel relinquished control of the Rafah crossing to Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and the European Union when it evacuated Gaza in 2005. In the intervening period, Hamas has used the crossing to smuggle arms and munitions into Gaza, aided by an extensive tunnel network along the Egyptian border. In November, a U.S. official pointed out that Hamas obstructed efforts to evacuate wounded and foreign citizens from Rafah through the crossing by attempting to pass off injured terrorists as civilians. “A third of the people who were on the list that Hamas submitted turned out to be Hamas fighters,” the U.S. official observed at the time.

Meanwhile, the first day of the IDF’s operation in eastern Rafah resulted in the elimination of 20 terrorists.Israeli ground troops and warplanes “struck and eliminated Hamas terror targets in the Rafah area, including military structures, underground infrastructure, and additional terrorist infrastructure from which Hamas operated in the Rafah area,” the IDF noted in a statement. In addition, Israeli forces uncovered two terror tunnels.

Israel Calls on Civilians to Evacuate Rafah,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Strikes Hamas Command Center Under UNRWA Complex,” FDD Flash Brief

Four IDF Soldiers Killed as Hamas Rockets Strike Humanitarian Aid Crossing,” FDD Flash Brief


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