Israeli Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi delivers a speech beside an Israeli flag

Israeli Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi speaks on March 9, 2021

(Photo: Nissim Vaturi/Facebook)

Israeli Lawmakers Reaffirm Genocidal Rhetoric on Eve of ICJ Trial

"I stand behind my words," said Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi. "It is better to burn down buildings rather than have soldiers harmed. There are no innocents there."

Two Israeli lawmakers from right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party doubled down Wednesday on calls to destroy or depopulate Gaza, prompting an admonition from the country's attorney general on the eve of an emergency hearing in the South African-led genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

In an interview with Hakol Baramah radio, Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi said he did not regret his November call for Israel to "stop being humane" and "burn Gaza now."

"I stand behind my words," Vaturi said, according toThe Times of Israel. "It is better to burn down buildings rather than have soldiers harmed. There are no innocents there."

Referring to Palestinian civilians trapped in northern Gaza, Vaturi added that he has "no mercy for those who are still there."

"We need to eliminate them," he asserted.

On Tuesday, Israeli Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara cautioned government officials against making inflammatory statements like Vaturi's.

Baharav-Miara said officials are "obligated to act according to the principles of international law and the laws of war."

"Statements that call for, among other things, intentional harm to uninvolved citizens, are against the prevailing policy and may constitute criminal offenses, including incitement," she added.

Vaturi's remarks came as more than 90,000 Palestinians have been killed, wounded, or left missing by 96 days of largely indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of Gaza, where around 90% of the territory's 2.3 million residents have been displaced and most of its infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to Palestinian and United Nations officials.

Meanwhile, Haaretzreported that Danny Danon, a former United Nations ambassador now serving in the Knesset, said in a Wednesday radio interview that Israel must "not do half a job" in Gaza.

That, Danon said, means "voluntary migration" of Palestinians from Gaza—a euphemism, critics say, for an ethnic cleansing campaign akin to the Nakba, or "catastrophe," in which more than 750,000 Arabs were forcibly expelled from Palestine during the war to establish the modern state of Israel in 1948.

In November, Danon co-authored a Wall Street Journalopinion piece suggesting the ethnic cleansing of some of Gaza's population to Western countries that would accept the refugees.

Danon and Vaturi's remarks came as the International Court of Justice prepared to convene an emergency hearing Thursday in The Hague in a genocide case against Israel filed by South Africa and backed by nations including Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, Venezuela, Jordan, and Bolivia.

The filing in the World Court specifically mentions "direct and public incitement to genocide by senior Israeli officials and others."

These include individuals from Netanyahu and other senior Cabinet and military officials to Knesset members and municipal leaders.

Meanwhile, leftist Israeli lawmaker Ofer Cassif is being targeted for removal from the Knesset after becoming the first parliamentarian to express support for the ICJ genocide case against his country.

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