Palestinians inspect the damage of a destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike in Jabaliya refugee camp, on the outskirts of Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. AP
“It is the international community's responsibility to firmly confront this discourse of violence, hatred, and racism,” said Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid in a short statement on Sunday.
“While the world discusses nuclear disarmament and its dangers, some seem eager for more destruction and death,” added Abu Zeid.
Israel's Heritage Minister Amichay Eliyahu said in a radio interview on Saturday that he was not entirely satisfied with the scale of Israel's operation in Gaza.
When the interviewer asked whether he advocated dropping "some kind of atomic bomb on Gaza to kill everyone," Eliyahu replied: "That is one option."
Israel's government on Sunday reprimanded the ultranationalist junior minister, labeling his comments "disconnected from reality."
Eliyahu was also suspended from government meetings "until further notice," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.
His statement drew huge condemnation regionally, including from Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia criticized Netanyahu's government for not dismissing him.
"Failing to immediately dismiss the minister from the government and simply freezing his membership reflects the height of disdain for all human, moral, religious, and legal standards and values of the Israeli government," the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.
Jordan said the minister's remarks "were a call for genocide and a hate crime against the Palestinians."
A Freudian slip or acknowledgment?
Veteran Egyptian diplomats who have diligently worked towards the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East brought attention to the possibility that Eliyahu's radio statements may constitute the first official Israeli acknowledgment of Israel’s long-concealed nuclear weapons programme.
Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa raised attention to this matter, calling on the Arab League (AL) to act formally over this statement.
“What one of the Israeli government ministers stated yesterday, calling for the use of nuclear weapons to subdue Gaza and Hamas, marks the first admission by a senior Israeli official regarding Israel's possession of nuclear weapons,” Moussa, a former Secretary General of the AL, said on his official account on X, formerly Twitter, on Sunday.
He warned that this statement raised the possibility of their use by the current extremist government.
“I urge the Arab League to document this statement and officially communicate it to the secretary-general of the United Nations and the president of the Security Council, as a preliminary step to take the necessary measures regarding this serious development,” the veteran Egyptian diplomat said.
This should be done in coordination with the relevant non-proliferation bodies, he added.
The Arab League Secretary General and former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abou El-Gheit shared the same sentiment as he slammed the call to nuke Gaza, describing it as a "revealing statement."
"The statements of racist Israeli Minister Eliyahu are revealing. He did not only acknowledge their possession of nuclear weapons, a secret known to all, but he also underscored the disturbingly racist view of Israelis towards the Palestinian people," he said in a short statement on X.
"This is the true face of the occupying government for anyone who defends it in the West," he added
Israel has long maintained a policy of nuclear ambiguity.
According to some estimates, Israel's nuclear stockpile ranges between 80 and 400 warheads since the 1960s, yet the Israeli government has never confirmed nor denied their possession.
Israel is also among the very few countries that have not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
In a comment on the Israeli Heritage Minister’s remark, Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor human rights NGO stated in a post on X that Israel has already dropped over 25,000 tons of bombs on Gaza in 4 weeks; the equivalent of about two Hiroshima bombs.
It added that over half of all housing units in the entire Gaza Strip are damaged.