Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has outlined a plan for the post-war future of Gaza, saying that neither Hamas nor Israel will control the Palestinian territory after the ongoing conflict concludes.
Gallant’s proposal, submitted to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet yesterday (4 January), said there would be “no Israeli civilian presence in the Gaza Strip after the goals of the war have been achieved”.
Among these goals is safe passage for the hostages taken by Hamas on 7 October 2023 and the dismantlement of the group’s “military and governing capabilities”.
The plan did state, however, that Israel would reserve the right to operate inside Gaza, and that the invasion will continue “for as long as necessary”.
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Gallant also outlined how the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) would scale down its combat approach in northern Gaza while maintaining the intensity of strikes in the south.
Netanyahu fights domestic battle
As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flies to Israel and wider Middle East region, Netanyahu will be hoping to mend Israel’s far-from united front.
Far-right members of his cabinet have called for the removal of Palestinians from Gaza altogether, claiming Gallant’s proposal is lenient.
On Monday (1 January), National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said Israeli settlers should return to Gaza after the war, calling for a “solution to encourage the emigration” of its Palestinian population.
More than 90% of the Gazan population has already been displaced.
Danny Danon, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said Israel must “make it easier for Gazans to leave for other countries”, pointing to nations in Latin America and Africa which are allegedly “willing to absorb refugees from the Gaza Strip”.
Israel-UN war of words escalates
Such plans have been rejected as “extremist” and “unworkable” by other countries in the region, as well as some of Israel’s allies, including the US.
The United Nations has also criticised Israeli relocation plans.
Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, described statements made by high-ranking Israeli officials about the forcible relocation of Gazans to third countries as “very disturbing”.
More UN workers have been killed in Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza than in any other conflict – surpassing 136 deaths.
Israel has announced it will no longer automatically permit UN workers visas, accusing the organisation of being “complicit partners” with Hamas amid repeated calls from UN officials for a ceasefire.
Turk’s criticism comes days after South Africa filed a case against Israel for genocide in the International Court of Justice.
While the case will likely take years to conclude, it signifies an unprecedented step by the international community to call out Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on Palestinian territories.