IDF is building a fortified road cutting Gaza into two

It will isolate the major terror center of Gaza City and the northern section from the center and south.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The IDF is building a fortified road cutting the Gaza Strip into two parts in order to isolate the major terror center of Gaza City and the northern section from its center and south, Channel 14 reported Saturday night.

Reserve Battalion 601 of the Combat Engineering Corps has been working hard for weeks. They started at the beginning, opening quarries to grind massive amounts of stone to construct the wide east-west road that begins at Kibbutz Nachal Oz on the border and runs almost to the Mediterranean Sea. Work on the passageway, which is appropriate for tanks as well as regular military vehicles, goes on day and night, with the soldiers manning dozens upon dozens of trucks, earthmoving equipment, and other sundry machines to build it as quickly as possible.

They are creating this buffer zone, which they have temporarily named Road 749, “in order to protect the area, to raid areas where the enemy is, to prevent the passage from south to north and control it very precisely,” said battalion commander Lt. Col. Shimon Orkabi.

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“We are forging all the roads for all the fighting forces,” Orkabi continued, enabling them “to arrive with our various means of sabotage and destroy the terrorist infrastructures that exist above ground and certainly also in the various underground [tunnels].”

The IDF declared in December that it had full control over the northern part of Gaza, including the enclave’s capital, Gaza City. It is believed over a million Gazans listened to Israel’s urging to get out of the battle zone and fled south both before the ground incursion began and during the fighting.  However, some 150,000 were estimated to have stayed in humanitarian corridors protected by the army, including Hamas combatants hiding among them.

Since then, there are conflicting reports as to how many have returned, with some citing numbers as high as 350,000, including an unknown number of active terrorists. The IDF has discovered at least one tunnel running north-south that would aid such an endeavor, as well as the smuggling of weapons and rockets to rearm the north.

Any buildings standing in the way of the construction are being destroyed, said the report, and “no one is left in the area except for IDF soldiers.”

The 601st Battalion has paid a price for its dedicated anti-terrorist work, with Orkabi’s deputy, Major David Shaukri, killed in action about a week ago. The determination of the troops to complete their mission, said Orkabi, has not faltered.

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“We were sure that this is the Whatsapp and Instagram generation,” he smiled. “They surprised me in an extraordinary way.”

The report concluded that this road is proof of the IDF’s determination to stay in the Gaza Strip “for a long time” in order to protect Israel from Hamas terrorism, “because you don’t build a road like this just for a stay of two months.”