A senior member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has said that Israel will no longer be able to accept the existence of Gaza, and Palestinians there should agree to “voluntary emigration” and leave for other countries.
Reuters reports that the finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who heads one of the religious nationalist parties in Netanyahu’s coalition, was speaking after a call by two members of the Israeli parliament who wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial that western countries should accept families from Gaza who expressed a desire to relocate.
His comments underscore fears across the region that Israel wants to drive Palestinians out of Gaza, repeating the mass dispossession of Palestinians when Israel was created in 1948, referred to as the Nakba.
An estimated 1.5 million people in Gaza – three-quarters of the blockaded territory’s population – have fled their homes through the Israeli military “safe routes” in the six weeks of war.
Earlier this week, the Hamas-run health ministry said that at least 11,240 Palestinians have been killed, including 4,630 children and 3,130 women in Gaza by the Israeli military since 7 October. About 1,200 Israelis have died in the conflict, most on 7 October.
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