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    ‘Will Encourage Palestinians to Emigrate’: Minister Tells Israeli Settlers to Take Over Gaza

    ‘Will Encourage Palestinians to Emigrate’: Minister Tells Israeli Settlers to Take Over Gaza


    Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Sunday called for the return of Jewish settlers to the Gaza Strip after the war and said its Palestinian population should be encouraged to emigrate.

    Israel launched a relentless military campaign against Hamas in Gaza after the Palestinian militants carried out an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7.

    “To have security we must control the territory,” Smotrich told Israel’s Army Radio in response to a question about the prospect of re-establishing settlements in Gaza.

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

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    Israel unilaterally withdrew the last of its troops and settlers in 2005, ending a presence inside Gaza that began in 1967 but maintaining near complete control over the territory’s borders.

    All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are regarded as illegal under international law, regardless of whether they were approved by Israel.

    Smotrich, head of the ultranationalist Religious Zionism party that is part of the ruling coalition, also said Israel should “encourage” the territory’s approximately 2.4 million Palestinians to relocate to other countries.

    “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.”

    Hamas condemned Smotrich’s comments as “vile mockery and a war crime”.

    Gazans “will stand firm and steadfast in the face of all attempts to displace them from their land and homes”, the group said in a statement.

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    The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not officially suggested plans to evict Gazans or to send Jewish settlers back to the territory since the war broke out.

    The October 7 Hamas attack left about 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

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    (This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)

    Shankhyaneel SarkarShankhyaneel Sarkar is a senior subeditor at News18. He covers international aff…Read More

    Location: Jerusalem, Undefined

    first published: January 01, 2024, 06:52 IST

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