Israel’s Prime Minister has dismissed leaked proposals for expelling the Gaza Strip’s entire population to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula as hypothetical. The Telegraph has more.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the plan was outlined in a concept paper drafted by intelligence officials and had not been discussed by policy makers.
But the document, reported on widely in the Israeli media, has been condemned by Palestinian leaders and risks worsening tensions with neighbouring Egypt, which has long-feared Israel wants to pass off responsibility for Gaza to Cairo.
The intelligence ministry paper dated six days after Hamas’s October 7th attack killed more than 1,400 people in southern Israel looked at three alternatives “to effect a significant change in the civilian reality in the Gaza Strip in light of Hamas’s crimes”.
It proposed moving the enclave’s population of more than 2.2 million people to tent cities in northern Sinai, then later building permanent cities and an undefined humanitarian corridor.
A security zone would be established inside Israel to block the displaced Palestinians from entering, it envisaged.
The report did not say what would become of Gaza once its population had been cleared out, but indicated that the evicted residents could ultimately settle elsewhere. Countries including Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates could give the refugees money or resettle them, the document suggested.
The paper admitted the proposal “is liable to be complicated in terms of international legitimacy”.
“In our assessment, fighting after the population is evacuated would lead to fewer civilian casualties compared to what could be expected if the population were to remain,” it said.
Mr. Netanyahu’s office called it a “concept paper, the likes of which are prepared at all levels of the Government and its security agencies”.
“The issue of the ‘day after’ has not been discussed in any official forum in Israel, which is focused at this time on destroying the governing and military capabilities of Hamas,” it said.
Israel has told civilians in the north of the Strip, including residents of Gaza City, to move to the south of the enclave, saying it will be safer there as the military attacks Hamas following its cross-border assault.
But many who live there fear Israel’s military incursion into Gaza, which Israel says is aimed at wiping out the terrorist group, is a pretext to clear all or part of the territory of Palestinians.
They harbour concerns of a repeat of the uprooting of hundreds of thousands who fled or were forced from their homes during the fighting surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.
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