Evidence emerging from Israel suggests that the current systematic brutal destruction of Gaza (and many of its people) may be part of a wider plan by at least some elements of the Israeli government to annex the West Bank (and probably most of Gaza) – so as to create a ‘Greater Israel’ and to totally and permanently attempt to extinguish Palestinians’ rights to a country of their own.
The evidence includes a leaked document from Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence, proposing that Gaza’s entire population should be compulsorily removed from the Gaza Strip and resettled in Egypt’s Sinai desert.
The document, issued internally within Israel’s Intelligence Ministry just two and a half months ago (on 13 October), proposed urging Gazans to move south towards the Egyptian border (an action which has now, in fact, been implemented by the Israeli military); and proposed then establishing Palestinian tent cities (for displaced Gazans) in Egypt (so far large tent cities have been established – but in small areas of the Gaza Strip near the Egyptian border).
The Israeli document is an internal one – and, by itself, does not definitively prove that Israel intends emptying Gaza of its Palestinian population.
However, taken together with public statements by senior Israeli politicians (and military actions by Israel’s armed forces), ethnic cleansing on a grand scale does seem to be Israel’s preferred/intended direction of travel.
Statements by Israeli politicians reveal the Israeli right’s objectives:
For instance on 7 October (the day of the horrific massacres by Hamas), a member of the Israeli parliament, Ariel Kallner (a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party) stated:
“Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 1948.”
The 1948 Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) was the permanent removal/exclusion of 750,000 Palestinians from Israel.
Then, on 12 October, Reservist Major General Giora Eiland (of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies and former head of the Israeli National Security Council) told Israeli media that Israel’s actions in “creating a severe humanitarian crisis [in Gaza] is a necessary means to achieve the goal. Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.” “Israel needs to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, compelling tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands to seek refuge in Egypt or the [Arabian] Gulf,” he said.
On 13 October, Israel’s Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Israel Katz, declared that “All the civilian population in [northern] Gaza is ordered to leave immediately.”
Then, on 14 October, the influential former senior diplomat (and former Deputy Foreign Minister) Danny Ayalon, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that “there is endless space for Gaza’s civilians in Egypt’s Sinai Desert” and that “they should all be moved there.”
Finally, on 12 November, Israeli Security Cabinet member and Agriculture Minister, Avi Dichter said:
“We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba – Gaza Nakba 2023. That’s how it’ll end.”
Even back in March 2022, Uzi Dayan, a veteran Israeli military commander and Israeli politician who served as a Likud MP between 2020 and 2021, warned: “We need to tell the Arab [Palestinian] community to be careful. In a war situation, “things will end in one word and a situation you know, which is Nakba. This is what will happen in the end.” Indeed, already years ago, in 2005 and 2010, the Israeli government tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to persuade the Egyptian government to allow Gaza’s population to be resettled in Egypt.
And, in the current conflict, on the ground in Gaza, Israel is busy making permanent ethnic cleansing (a second Nakba) a likelihood by making it virtually impossible for Palestinians to continue physically living in all or most of the Gaza Strip.
Over 85,000 Gazans have been killed or seriously injured
At least 68% of homes have so far been destroyed by Israeli bombing, as has much of the water supply, electricity supply and sewage disposal system. Much of the education and health system has also been flattened. Over 85,000 Gazans have been killed or seriously injured – and over 90% of the population has been driven from their homes and now face disease, malnutrition and winter cold – as well as further Israeli bombardment. The level of destruction has been deliberate. Indeed, on October 10 last year, the official Israel military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, stated that , in terms of bombing Gaza, “the emphasis is on damage and not accuracy.” And some in the Israeli government don’t even regard the Palestinians as a people: Indeed, on March 20, 2023, Israel’s Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, said that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people.”
But how would driving Gaza’s population into the Sinai desert (or more likely into a tiny corner of the Gaza Strip) help Israel to annex the West Bank?
The answer comes down to Israel’s demographic fear of the Palestinians.
Some elements in the Israeli government see Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians as a demographic threat to any ‘Greater Israel’ plan.
Right-wing Israeli politicians fear that the combined Palestinian population of Gaza and the West Bank (and Israel’s own Palestinian minority) would at some stage exceed Israel’s Jewish population – and it’s partly that fear that has so far prevented Israel from annexing the West Bank. (Certainly the Israel right would like to annex the West Bank. Indeed the coalition agreement which brought the current Israeli Prime Minister (Netanyahu) to power in late 2022 unambiguously stated that “The nation of Israel has a natural right to the Land of Israel [ie., Israel and the West Bank]”. Indeed the coalition agreement actually stipulated that “In light of the belief in that aforementioned right, the prime minister will formulate and promote policies within whose framework [Israeli] sovereignty will be applied to Judea and Samaria”. ‘Judea and Samaria’ is what the Israeli right call the West Bank – as they perceive it as an integral part of what they term the ‘Land of Israel’ (ie., ‘Greater Israel’).
However, if Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians were to be removed from that demographic equation, Israeli Jews would have a guaranteed demographic and political majority in any ‘Greater Israel’ for at least decades to come – and that would make annexation of the West Bank (and all or part of a substantially depopulated Gaza) a much more likely option for Israel to pursue.
The Israel/Palestinian conflict largely began in 1948 when the Arab world militarily opposed the creation of Israel and when subsequently Israel permanently removed/excluded most of its Palestinian population (around 750,000 people). That huge Israeli ethnic cleansing operation was known in Arabic as the Nakba (‘the Catastrophe’). If Israel succeeds in driving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians out of all or most of the Gaza Strip, it would be a second Nakba – but three times bigger than the first. The Israeli right wants to force Gazan Palestinians into Egypt – but the Egyptian government is unlikely to cooperate. So it is more likely that Israel will instead continue trying to force most Gazans into a tiny enclave in southern Gaza adjacent to the Egyptian border. Israel would then probably occupy the depopulated parts of the Gaza Strip, while potentially renouncing any responsibility for the southern enclave, thus abandoning it to be administered and cared for by the international community.
As 1948 initiated a period of still continuing injustice and instability in the Middle East, so a second Nakba would almost certainly have a similar or greater regional destabilising effect.
At present the expulsion of 2.3 million Palestinians from the Gaza Strip (or more likely from most of it) and the annexation of the West Bank and potentially all or most of the Strip) are not done deals. They are the aspiration of some elements on the right of the political spectrum in Israel (including some in its government).
A betrayal of democracy, justice and the rule of law
But if western democracies don’t robustly deter Israel from going down that route, the West will have betrayed democracy, justice and the rule of law.
IIn the UK, Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Opposition leader Keir Starmer must step up to the plate now. The ultimate birth of the current conflict took place under UK auspices (when Britain ruled Palestine in and prior to 1948) – and the UK’s refusal to call for a proper ceasefire is making a second Nakba, annexation of the West Bank and regional destabilisation more, not less, likely. Sunak and Starmer’s political positions on Gaza are a total betrayal of Britain’s long-term interests.
But why are Sunak and Starmer so reluctant to at least try to rein Israel in or even to directly criticise it.
There are several factors at play. Firstly there’s a reluctance to break ranks with the US government (That’s the same phenomenon that sucked Britain into the disastrous Iraq War).
Secondly there is a reluctance to do anything that the right-wing UK media would wrongly interpret as being ‘soft on terrorists’. (But, sadly, failure to rein in Israel will probably generate more terrorists, not fewer!)
And last, but definitely not least, there’s a wrong-headed ill-founded ‘belief’ that not supporting Israel could be interpreted in some way by the media and others as being anti-Semitic.
Over recent years the definition of anti-Semitism has been massively broadened and politically weaponized – so as to make it more difficult for politicians and others to support Palestine and to criticise Israel
The political inequality with which right-wing UK politicians treat Palestinian aspirations and Israeli ones is quite blatant.
‘From the river to the sea’
For instance, when some Palestinians aspire to a Palestinian state ‘from the river to the sea’, they are condemned as antisemitic – but the same right-wing politicians never condemn the Israeli government for advocating a ‘Greater Israel’ stretching, again, ‘from the river to the sea’ (indeed, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu even publicized the concept at the United Nations just over three months ago – see picture above).
Both aspirations, if implemented, would generate a new ocean of tears and suffering – but the UK right is only prepared to condemn some Palestinians’ aspirations – but never the Israeli right’s aspirations. The bias and blindness of many in the West is palpable – and tragically can only lead the further suffering and geopolitical chaos. Britain’s and the world’s interests demand that western politicians show a little bit more wisdom and courage. International law must be upheld – not betrayed.