Israel minister urges return of Jewish settlers to Gaza after war against Hamas

Israel minister urges return of Jewish settlers to Gaza after war against Hamas

Israel minister urges return of Jewish settlers to Gaza after war against Hamas

Far-right politician Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli Finance Minister, stated on Sunday that the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip need to be encouraged to leave the region and that Jewish settlers ought to be allowed to return there following the conflict.

Following the unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7 by Palestinian agents, Israel began an unrelenting military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Smotrich said to Israel’s Army Radio, “To have security we must control the territory,” in response to a query regarding the possibility of re-establishing settlements in Gaza.

“In order to control the territory militarily for a long time, we need a civilian presence.”

Since the start of the conflict on October 7, the Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has not formally proposed any plans to drive out Gazans or return Jewish settlers to the area.

Israel ended its 1967-era presence inside Gaza by unilaterally withdrawing its last contingent of troops and settlers in 2005, while still maintaining almost total control over the region’s boundaries.

Regardless of Israel’s approval, all settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law.

The leader of the ruling coalition’s ultranationalist Religious Zionism party, Smotrich, added that Israel ought to “encourage” the roughly 2.4 million Palestinians living in the region to leave for other nations.

“If we act in a strategically correct way and encourage emigration, if there are 100,000 or 200,000 Arabs in Gaza and not two million, the whole discourse of the day after (the war) will be completely different,” he said.

“We will help rehabilitate these refugees in other countries in a good and humane manner with the cooperation of the international community and Arab countries around us.”

Israel maintained a land, sea, and air blockade on the Gaza Strip even after leaving in 2005, and it is still recognised internationally as an occupying force there.

The majority of those killed in the October 7 Hamas strike were civilians.

The health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza claims that over 21,800 individuals have died as a result of Israel’s current offensive in Gaza, the majority of whom were women and children.

The UN estimates that 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced as a result of the ongoing severe fighting.

(With agency inputs)