Israel Hayom carries a story alleging that Bibi Netanyahu has tasked his closest political confidant, Ron Dermer, with devising a plant that would “thin out the population of Gaza to a bare minimum.”
Israeli security ministers and military command are now debating about the “day after” in Gaza. There is no clear consensus among them. The Biden administration has expressed clear views that there be no ethnic cleansing, nor displacement of the population in northern Gaza in order to expand the buffer zone. It also is urging a free flow of humanitarian aid. But Netanyahu is resistant due to the constraints of his far-right coalition partners, who hold him hostage on such issues. It may try to deflect American demands with “we’ll try.” Though this means nothing.
The article’s author claims that the Israeli security cabinet is in agreement that Israel will not administer Gaza at the war’s end. That contradicts a statement Netanyahu made that Israel would do so. He may, according to the article, continue to support this approach. Or he may have abandoned it due to American opposition.
But if Israel refuses to physically occupy and govern Gaza, the only other alternative would be for Hamas to return in that role. Netanyahu adamantly opposes this. Which may compel Israel to return Gaza to its former status as occupier. The US strongly oppose this option. Which may create a conflict between the two sides, though Biden and Blinken seem to blink whenever they go head-to-head with the Israelis.
In order to facilitate Israeli control and lessen the level of opposition, Netanyahu believes Israel should ethnically cleanse as much of the population as it can get away with. The military command, which seems to have a more pragmatic viewpoint, says this is a highly improbable goal, even a fantasy. The plan would somehow have to bypass the fierce opposition of the Americans and Egyptians. The latter may, the security ministers warn, express their opposition by firing on any refugees who try to cross from Gaza into Egypt. There would also be global opposition to 2.5-million Gazan refugees wandering the world seeking safe haven. There is enough tension in the world regarding refugees, without adding this as a further burden.
Ethnic cleansing as humanitarian gesture
Netanyahu doesn’t view this plan as ethnic cleansing because it will not be a forced displacement. Rather it would relieve the stranglehold of the blockade from the population. In effect, it would be a humanitarian gesture. The article even uses the term “emigration” in this context. As if the Gazans would be simply moving out of one home into another.
There would be, according to Netanyahu’s thinking, numerous options for Gazans to leave including the Rafah crossing, the subterranean “Metro” tunnel system, and even the sea! In this event, the Israeli navy would back off its naval blockade and permit refugees to leave via a mass exodus to Europe or Africa. The self-delusion in all this is extraordinary. Yes, Israel believes that Gaza refugees will somehow board a skiff, float on a raft, crawl into a submarine or swim to safety somewhere–anywhere but Gaza.
One doesn’t even know where to start in analyzing the insanity of it. But in the world we’re living in the insane, the unthinkable becomes not only thinkable, but real. Could Israel get away with it? Would the world do anything to stop this? A rhetorical question, since we already know the answer.
Netanyahu may be proposing this to mollify the messianist genociders in his cabinet, Smotrich and Ben Gvir. But the ministers who served in command positions in the IDF think this idea lies somewhere between fantasy and immorality.
Let’s leave aside that the actual residents of Gaza do not want to be moved either by force or voluntarily. And that they will resist such a plan in every way possible, including armed resistance. Not to mention the global condemnation. Yet nevertheless, Bibi is so enamored that he will pursue it till he meets a brick wall.
Israel has abandoned the ceasefire and resumed the attack, Israel Hayom says, because before the cabinet vote on the hostage deal, Smotrich and Ben Gvir told Netanyahu they would vote No and abandon the government, unless he pledged to resume the war. So imagine how the surviving family of IDF troops who die from now till the end of the war will feel when they discover Bibi could have brought their boy or girl home today or tomorrow, if only the ceasefire had lasted longer. This is war for the sake of political necessity. Soldiers are fighting and dying, while their leaders bicker over personal interests and ambition.