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Israel – Gaza Strip. BBC: Israel has completed construction of a road through the Gaza Strip. Expert concerns

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The Israel Defense Forces (Cahal) have completed the construction of a new road running through the northern Gaza Strip from east to west, according to an analysis of satellite images conducted by the BBC. According to experts, this may be a signal that Israel is preparing for a longer presence in the Palestinian semi-enclave.

Israeli media reported on the road in February this year, calling it “Highway 749”.

An analysis of satellite images by the BBC showed that the Defense Forces Israel (Cahal) completed the construction of over five kilometers of new sections that connected existing road sections. “Highway 749” begins near Kibbutz Nahal Oz on the Israeli side of the border and leads to the Al Rashid coastal road on the Mediterranean Sea, cutting off Gaza City from the rest of the territory.

Photo analysis also shows that buildings in the area, which were probably used as warehouses, were razed to the ground between late December and late January.

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Expert concerns. “It’s part of a long-term strategy”

The Israeli army told the BBC they wanted to gain an “operational foothold” and the plan would facilitate the movement of troops and equipment. “Cahal is using the operational route as part of ground operations,” the Israeli army said, without going into details.

However, experts quoted by the BBC fear that the road will be used as a barrier preventing Palestinians from returning to their homes in northern Gaza. “By dividing Gaza in half, Israel will control not only what enters and leaves the Gaza Strip, but also movement within it,” Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the US Middle East Institute, told the BBC.

According to other experts, the new infrastructure is a sign that Israel plans to remain in the Gaza Strip after the end of the war.

Israeli soldiers near the border with the Gaza StripPAP/EPA/ABIR SULTAN

Analysts point out that the unpaved surface seen in media materials is suitable for tracked armored vehicles, which may suggest that the purpose of the new road is to provide quick access for security forces in the event of new threats and facilitate logistical and military control in the region.

“This appears to be part of a long-term strategy aimed at at least some form of intervention and security control in the Gaza Strip,” said former British army officer Justin Crump.

Although there is a network of roads connecting the east and west, the new route is the only one that runs continuously through the Gaza Strip.

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ABIR SULTAN

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