Even as the war in Gaza continues, there is increasing speculation about Israel’s plans for the territory once the military threat from Hamas is eliminated. Israeli politicians, particularly those on the right, have expressed various opinions on what should happen next.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog has suggested maintaining a strong presence in Gaza to prevent a security vacuum. However, the views expressed by far-right individuals like Itamar Ben Gvir, Amihai Eliyahu, and Galit Distel Atbaryan are more extreme and call for actions such as eliminating sympathizers of Hamas, considering the use of nuclear weapons, and erasing Gaza from the face of the earth.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich even proposed the voluntary emigration of Gaza’s Palestinians to other countries. These views have raised concerns that Israel may be pursuing a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Critics fear that Israel is orchestrating a de facto ethnic cleansing campaign, with the majority of the Gaza population already displaced and uncertain of their ability to return to their homes. Some experts have even described these views as indicating a clear intention of ethnic cleansing.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may argue that he is in control of his cabinet, the adoption of increasingly hard-line policies by the right-wing Israeli establishment suggests otherwise. The attack by Hamas in October 2021 only served to strengthen the legitimacy of these extremist views.
There have been proposals by lawmakers, such as Amit Halevi, to further amend laws to allow freedom of movement for Israelis in Gaza after the war. Additionally, a leaked document from Israel’s Intelligence Ministry suggested the forcible transfer of Gaza’s Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
However, the Israeli government and military have not officially stated their intentions regarding the indefinite occupation or resettlement of Gaza, and international calls for a cease-fire are growing louder.
The immediate priority for Israeli officials is to crush Hamas and rescue hostages, but the question of what will happen in the aftermath of the conflict remains uncertain. The Biden administration has backed Israel’s right to self-defense but has cautioned against an Israeli occupation of Gaza.
Israeli forces have severely degraded Hamas’s military capabilities and caused significant damage to Gaza’s infrastructure. The control of Gaza by Hamas is already weakened.
The Israeli left is concerned about the potential consequences and actions that may follow this stage. There is a fear that the extremist views of the Israeli right may become a plan of action for future governments. The possibility of total destruction and mass expulsion during wars is a concern, as history has shown that even a single settler’s hallucination can shape government actions.
In conclusion, there are differing views within Israeli politics regarding the future of Gaza. While the Israeli government’s official stance is not yet clear, the extreme views expressed by certain individuals on the right raise concerns about potential ethnic cleansing and the displacement of Gaza’s Palestinians. The international community is increasing its calls for a cease-fire and humanitarian aid to address the catastrophic impact of the conflict.