A look at some of Israel's incendiary statements since 7 October

Ahram Online , Sunday 26 May 2024

Israel’s war on Gaza has seen relentless bombardment, a ground invasion, and incendiary rhetoric against the Palestinians.

Ben Gvir
Netanyahu ally Itamar Ben Gvir has been convicted of inciting anti-Arab racism and supporting terrorism. AFP


Here are some of the provocative statements made by Israeli officials since the beginning of the war on 7 October:

- In late October, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a televised address to the Israeli public, cited the Bible in declaring Israel’s full-scale invasion of Gaza:

“You must remember what Amalek has done to you.”

Amalekites were persecutors of the biblical Israelites, and a biblical commandment says they must be destroyed.

The verse 1 Samuel 15:3 frequently invoked by the Israeli far-right to justify killing Palestinians reads: "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

- Two days after the Hamas operation, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel was “fighting human animals,” in announcing a complete siege on Gaza.

“There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel. Everything is closed,” Gallant said.

Subsequently, Israel sealed Gaza of food, fuel, and essential supplies, and launched heavy airstrikes, the deadliest on the strip in 15 years.

- Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi from the ruling Likud Party wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the Israelis had one common goal: “erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth.”

- Israeli Heritage Minister Amichay Eliyahu, from the far-right Jewish Power Party, suggested that Israel drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza and said there were “no uninvolved civilians” in the territory.

- Israeli soldiers were caught on video making similar remarks as they sang and danced in the early days of Israel’s ground offensive.

- On 7 October, a journalist wrote on X that Gaza should become “a slaughterhouse” if the roughly 250 captives held in Gaza were not returned.

- Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich once called for “erasing” a Palestinian West Bank town.

- National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir talked of the supremacy of freedom of movement for Jewish West Bank settlers over that same right for Palestinians.

Ben-Gvir has more recently demanded that the Israeli army shoot Palestinian women and children in Gaza.

“We cannot have women and children getting close to the border... anyone who gets near must get a bullet [in the head],” Ben-Gvir said, criticizing the Israeli army’s rules of engagement in Gaza.

Ben-Gvir said the rules were too lenient and demanded that they be broadened out to encompass civilians.

Rather than argue about the ethics of shooting Palestinian women and children, Israeli military chief Herzi Halevi expressed his concern that it might lead to more “friendly fire” incidents between Israeli troops.

He also suggested Israel execute detained Palestinians, many of them women and children, to free up space in overcrowded Israeli prisons.

"The death penalty for terrorists is the right solution to the incarceration problem,” he said.

Later, he acquiesced, expressing interim satisfaction, as the Israeli government approved plans to construct 936 additional prison cells to take in more Palestinians.

"We must implement what is stated in our Torah and encourage the people of Gaza to leave it," he said. 


Deportation to Sinai

- On the first day of the war, Netanyahu told the Palestinians in Gaza, which shares a border with Egypt, to “leave now because we will operate forcefully everywhere.”

- Israel's intelligence ministry recommended in a leaked document, the deportation of Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula “temporarily,” a move Egypt has categorically refused and human rights experts have described as a war crime.

- Israeli Military Spokesman Richard Hecht, while addressing foreign reporters, also suggested that people in Gaza head to Egypt.

“Anyone who can get out, I would advise them to get out,” said Hecht. His office revised the call shortly afterwards.

The Israeli remarks have triggered a strict response by Egyptian security sources, who warned of the resurgence of a frequently proposed Israeli scheme to resettle Gazans in Sinai, stressing that Egypt will reject such “historically and politically corrupt” proposals.

Following such remarks, Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Amira Oron issued a statement on her official Facebook page in Arabic noting: "Israel has no intentions regarding Sinai, and it has not asked the Palestinians to move there."

Israeli Army Spokesman Avichay Adraee claimed that Israel has not issued an official call directing Gazans toward Egypt.

“People are directed to areas and shelters within the borders of the Gaza Strip without leaving it,” Adraee wrote on X, asserting that the Israeli forces are evacuating civilians from areas where Hamas has presence.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz reiterated that Israel has no plans to deport Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.

"We have no intention to deport any Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip," Katz told the Munich Security Conference.

Katz added that Israel will coordinate with Egypt on Palestinian refugees and will find a way to not harm Egypt's interests.

High-level Egyptian sources have warned against pushing Palestinians towards Egyptian borders and evacuating Gaza’s inhabitants to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

The high-level sources affirmed that “the Egyptian sovereignty is not to be violated.”

- However, less than two weeks ago, Ben-Gvir said that "To end the problem, so that the problem doesn't return, we need two things: 1. Return to Gaza now! Return to our holy land. Encourage the residents to leave! This is the truth! It's the only way!"

- Later, Israeli writer and politician Avi Lipkin, founder of a Judeo-Christian political Party said during a TV interview that he envisaged Israel’s borders will extend “from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia” and “from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates.”

“I believe we’re going to take Mecca, Medina, and Mount Sinai, and purify those places,” he said.

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