Israeli forces have achieved tactical control over the entire corridor that runs along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, Israel’s chief military spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The statement came as Israel continued its deadly raids on Rafah in southern Gaza despite an order from the International Court of Justice to end its attacks on the city, where half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people had previously taken refuge.

“Over the past few days, Israeli forces have achieved tactical control of the Philadelphi Corridor on the Egypt-Rafah border,” Daniel Hagari said in a televised briefing, using the Israeli military’s code name for the 14 km-long (9 mile) corridor along the Gaza Strip’s only border with Egypt.

“The Philadelphi Corridor served as an oxygen line for Hamas, which it regularly used to smuggle weapons into the area of the Gaza Strip,” Hagari said, referring to the armed Palestinian group that governs the blockaded territory.

The border with Egypt along the Gaza Strip’s southern edge is the territory’s only land border that previously was not directly controlled by Israel.

Hagari said the forces located some 20 tunnels along the corridor. He said soldiers discovered and destroyed a 1.5 kilometer-long tunnel route in eastern Rafah that contained “large quantities of weapons”, with the entrance shaft found 100 metres from the Rafah Crossing.

A “high-level” Egyptian source denied Israeli reports on the existence of tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border, Egypt’s state-affiliated Al-Qahera News TV said on Wednesday.

Israel says its assault on Rafah is necessary to achieve its goal of defeating Hamas following the attack by Hamas-led fighters who killed 1,200 people and captured more than 250 hostages on Oct. 7. It pressed on with the Rafah operation on Wednesday despite global scrutiny.

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s assault on Gaza, the enclave’s health ministry said, with thousands more trapped under rubble.

The United Nations says a million Gazans, most already displaced, have been forced to move again since Israel launched its assault on Rafah in early May. The assault has also cut off aid routes, worsening the humanitarian catastrophe from malnutrition and a collapsed health system.

The World Court has rejected Israel’s demands that it throw out a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza. While ordering Israel to immediately halt the Rafah assault, it also called on Hamas to release hostages taken from Israel on Oct. 7 immediately and unconditionally.

Israel denies the genocide allegations and says operating in Rafah is necessary to defeat thousands of Hamas fighters it says are sheltering there with top commanders, and return remaining hostages.