Israel, Egypt discussing 'advanced border fence' for Gaza south
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has confirmed that Israel is in talks with Egypt regarding plans to build an "advanced" border fence that would prevent arms being smuggled into besieged Gaza, Israel's Kan 11 broadcaster reported.
Gallant revealed the plans during a Knesset Foreign and Security Affairs Committee meeting.
According to Israel's Channel 14, Gallant said Israel does not plan to occupy the area of the Gaza-Egypt border, but wants tougher border controls.
"We will carry out operations in the city [Rafah], and we will use various means to prevent smuggling operations," Gallant was quoted as saying.
The report added that Israel plans to make the Rafah crossing area larger, and that a multinational force will carry out border inspections. Israel also reportedly plans to seal the border with an underground wall.
Until recently, the Rafah crossing, controlled by Egypt, was the only route into Gaza for humanitarian aid. On 17 December, Israel allowed a limited number of aid consignments to enter Gaza via the Karem Abu Salem crossing.
Amid Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza and its push south, Egypt has increased its military presence on the Rafah border.
Sources in the border city of Rafah told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language service, that Egypt's military had "strengthened its presence on the border with the Gaza Strip, and raised the level of barriers separating the Strip and Sinai in the past few days by placing concrete blocks in the vicinity of watchtowers and various military sites".
These reported attempts to bolster the border come amid fears that Israel is trying to push Palestinians out of Gaza and into Egypt's Sinai peninsula.
Much of Gaza's population has been forced to flee south towards Rafah since Israel launched its intensive bombardment of Gaza on 7 October. The Israeli air and ground assault has so far killed more than 21,100 people.