Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel hold a microphone while speaking on a stage

Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel—seen here speaking on October 3, 2023—has a plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Gaza.

(Photo: Gila Gamliel/X)

Israeli Officials' Plans to Ethnically Cleanse, Recolonize Gaza Stoke 'Second Nakba' Fears

Meanwhile, West Bank settlers are vowing to slaughter Palestinians, leaving bloody dolls and leaflets with warnings to flee or die.

The revelation in recent days of two separate Israeli plans for the permanent expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza has stoked fresh fears of ethnic cleansing in the besieged strip, while Jewish settlers in the illegally occupied West Bank are vowing to slaughter Palestinians there if they don't flee to Jordan.

As Israeli forces continue to pulverize Gaza with air and artillery strikes ahead of an expected major ground invasion—killing more than 7,300 Palestinians, wounding nearly 19,000 others, and displacing over 1.4 million residents—some Israeli leaders are formulating plans for the recolonization of Gaza.

The Israeli business daily Calcalistfirst reported a plan by Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel to forcibly expel Gazans into Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza, after the war. Calcalist viewed a document bearing the Intelligence Ministry's logo that was obtained by the Settlement Headquarters movement, which seeks to recolonize Gaza 18 years after Israeli troops and settlers withdrew from the coastal strip.

Gamliel envisions a course of action "that will yield positive and long-term strategic results" and involves the forced transfer of all Gazans into Egypt, a removal that would be carried out in three stages. First, tent cities would be built in the Sinai southwest of Gaza. This would be followed by the creation of a "humanitarian corridor" to aid evacuees. Finally, cities would be built in northern Sinai to permanently house Gazan refugees.

The plan also calls for the creation of a "sterile zone" several kilometers wide to prevent Palestinians from returning to Gaza, as well as efforts to persuade countries to act as "absorption baskets" for displaced Gazans. European countries such as Spain and Greece, North African nations, and Canada are all mentioned as possible resettlement destinations.

Referring to previous schemes to expel Palestinians from Gaza—most notably the mid-2000s Eiland Plan—the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights asserted Thursday that "Israel's plan to ethnically cleanse 2.3 million Palestinians from Gaza is not a result of its current genocidal war. It is by design and must be stopped!"

Some Israelis expressed a strong desire to recolonize Gaza.

Zevulun Kalfa, a 61-year-old administrative official in the Israeli kibbutz of Sa'ad—located less than three miles from the Gaza border—toldTheTimes of Israel Thursdaythat "we have children and grandchildren who dream of returning" to recolonize the strip.

"It cannot be more dangerous to have our families inside Gaza than next to Gaza," Kalfa contended, noting the 1,400 Israeli civilians and soldiers killed by this month's Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel.

"As soon as the government decides, we're ready," he added.

A separate plan published by the Israeli think tank Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy and reported by Middle East Eye examines the economics of forcibly transferring Gazans to the Sinai.

"There is currently a unique and rare opportunity to evacuate the entire Gaza Strip in coordination with the Egyptian government," wrote Amir Weitmann, the plan's author and chair of Likud's Libertarian faction.

"An immediate, realistic, and sustainable plan for the resettlement and humanitarian rehabilitation of the entire Arab population in the Gaza Strip is required, which aligns well with the economic and geopolitical interests of Israel, Egypt, the USA, and Saudi Arabia," he added.

Weitmann proposes relocating Gaza's 2.3 million people to the new satellite cities being built around Cairo, a move he estimates will cost between $5-$8 billion dollars.

"Throwing an immediate stimulus... to the Egyptian economy would provide a tremendous and immediate benefit to [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] El-Sisi's regime," he wrote.

Weitmann added that it is uncertain if there will ever again be such a fortuitous opportunity to reclaim Gaza; therefore, "the time to act is now."

"This is an innovative, cheap, and sustainable solution," the report states. "Over time this is actually a very worthwhile investment for Israel... Gaza would provide high-quality housing for many Israeli citizens."

The vast majority of Gazans are the descendants of Arabs ethnically cleansed from other parts of Palestine in 1947-49 during the creation of the modern state of Israel—and some of them are elderly survivors of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or "catastrophe," when more than 750,000 people were forced from their homes, often by massacre or threat thereof, to make way for Israeli colonists.

Hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed as 85% of the Arab population was expelled, never to return despite a guarantee to do so under United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, which was passed in 1948. Some elderly refugees and their descendants still hold the keys to their old homes—and hopes of returning to them.

Numerous observers have contended that Israel is seeking to perpetrate a "second Nakba" in Gaza—or that it already is, citing genocidal statements from Israeli leaders and the order for 1.1 million residents in the northern part of the besieged strip to flee for their lives.

While the world is focused on the horrors of Gaza, Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed more than 100 Palestinians and wounded nearly 2,000 others in the illegally occupied West Bank, where Jewish colonists are threatening to start a "great Nakba" if Arab residents don't pack up and permanently leave their homes and farms and flee to neighboring Jordan.

"Run to Jordan before we kill our enemies and expel you from our Holy Land, promised to us by God," reads one leaflet distributed by settlers in Salfit.

Canadian Al Jazeera journalist Sana Saeed warned that "a second Nakba is being constructed before our eyes."

Near Marjat on Thursday, settlers left dolls covered in blood or a substance meant to mimic it on the ground or strung up outside the entrance of a school.

On Friday, settlers in military gear invaded Marjat, hanging Israeli flags on a home near the school where the bloody dolls were found.

Jordan's King Abdullah said last week that the forcible displacement of Palestinians into his country would be a war crime.

Earlier this month, El-Sisi also vehemently rejected the idea of forced resettlement of Palestinians in the Sinai.

"Transferring refugees from the Gaza Strip to Sinai would simply amount to relocating their resistance," the president said in a televised speech on October 18, "turning Sinai into a launch pad for operations against Israel and granting Israel the right to defend itself and its national security by conducting strikes on Egyptian land in retaliation."

Egyptian leaders bristle at Western suggestions that they take in Palestinian refugees, with one senior Cairo diplomat reportedly telling a European Union counterpart earlier this week: "You want us to take 1 million people? Well, I am going to send them to Europe. You care about human rights so much—well, you take them."

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