Technical Note: Ravine Reaching Water Table Meets PM Netanyahu's Goal to
Closed The Philadephi Corridor Breach
Dr. Aaron Lerner 14 January 2024
Egypt's reacted to news that Prime Minister Netanyahu intends to prevent
smuggling from Egypt to the Gaza Strip via the Philadelphi Corridor by
insisting that Egypt's sovereignty not be compromised.
Israeli operations in the Philadelphi Corridor don't impinge on Egypt's
sovereignty, but since the Philadelphi Corridor is part of Zone D of the
1979 peace treaty it is ultimately subject to the force limitations which
apply to the entire length of Israel's side of the border with Egypt:
"... (2) In this Zone there will be an Israeli limited force of four
infantry battalions, their military installations, and field fortifications,
and United Nations observers.
(3) The Israeli forces in Zone D will not include tanks, artillery and
anti-aircraft missiles except individual surface-to-air missiles.
(4) The main elements of the four Israeli infantry battalions will consist
of up to 180 armored personnel vehicles of all types and up to a total of
four thousand personnel."
So if we are talking about a long term arrangement rather than a temporary
force deployment during wartime, we need to think out of the box for a way
to thwart the smuggling tunnels without requiring a large presence in the
Which brings us to the idea of digging a ravine which is deep enough to
expose a 20-meter wide "ribbon" of groundwater running the entire length of
the Philadelphi Corridor.
If one were to make the slope (gradient) of this ravine shallow enough that
geogrids, geocells and other commonly used products would suffice to
prevent its collapse (that's to say, no expensive and time consuming
concrete reinforcement), plus a 20-meter wide operations area plus a mound
peaking 20-meters with a similar gradient to hold the excavated earth, this
is a 400-meter wide ribbon.
Not only is the cost of such a project a fraction of the cost of erecting an
underground barrier on the Egyptian side.
It would actually work.
Compare the scenarios:
1. Tunnels above the water table would literally poke out of the side of the
ravine. It is technically close to impossible for Hamas to build a tunnel
which runs through the water table.
2. If the water table drops, this change is readily observable to the naked
eye and the ravine is excavated to reach the lower water table.
Multi-billion dollar wall on the Egyptian side:
1. If Hamas cuts a hole in the wall:
Option #1 All the Egyptians aware of it are bribed and don't report what the
sensors picked up.
Option #2 The breach is reported but the opening of the tunnel on the
Egyptian side is never found because the Egyptians looking for it are all
Option #3: The opening of the tunnel is found and closed and Hamas digs an
alternative entrance to the tunnel.
2. The water table drops so that it is possible to dig a tunnel which passes
below the multi-billion dollar wall:
The low tech ravine is a durable solution which, after implementation,
requires a bare-bones presence.
And if and when the Gaza Strip is no longer a threat to the Jewish State,
the ravine, with its 20 meter wide waterway could be developed into a huge
park for the benefit of the population.
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