Israel won’t occupy Gaza or displace Gazans, Netanyahu vows

Netanyahu pushes back on comments by ministers suggesting Israel should encourage voluntary mass emigration of Gazans and resettlement of the Gaza Strip.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that Israel will not “occupy” the Gaza Strip following the current war against Hamas, and that no steps will be taken to displace the coastal enclave’s Palestinian Arab population.

In a video statement released Wednesday night, the Israeli premier appeared to disavow recent comments by senior ministers in his own government who called on Israel to encourage mass emigration of Gazans and to resettle the Strip.

“I want to make a few points absolutely clear,” Netanyahu said in English.

“Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population.”

Netanyahu emphasized that Israel is in “full compliance” with the laws of war – alluding to Thursday’s hearing in The Hague, after South Africa accused the Jewish state of “war crimes” in its military operation against Hamas in Gaza.

“Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law.”

“The IDF is doing its utmost to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas is doing its utmost to maximize them by using Palestinian civilians as human shields.”

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“The IDF urges Palestinian civilians to leave war zones by disseminating leaflets, making phone calls, providing safe passage corridors, while Hamas prevents Palestinians from leaving at gunpoint and often, with gunfire.”

“Our goal is to rid Gaza of Hamas terrorists and free our hostages. Once this is achieved Gaza can be demilitarized and deradicalized, thereby creating a possibility for a better future for Israel and Palestinians alike.”

Last week, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party) sparred with the Biden administration over their public statements in support of a program to encourage voluntary mass emigration of Arabs from the Gaza Strip.