Do Israelis plan to expel Gazans to Sinai?

2023-10-31 12:12:51
Do Israelis plan to expel Gazans to Sinai?

Israel's Intelligence Ministry outlined three alternatives in a paper aimed at changing the civilian situation in Gaza after Tel Aviv initiated its relentless bombardment of this Palestinian territory.

An Israeli government ministry has drafted a wartime proposal to transfer 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, drawing condemnation from Palestine and worsening tensions with Cairo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office played down the report compiled by the Intelligence Ministry as a hypothetical exercise — a “concept paper.”

But its conclusions deepened long-standing Egyptian concerns that Israel wants to make Gaza into Egypt's problem, and revived for Palestinians memories of their greatest trauma — the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of people who fled or were forced from their homes during the fighting surrounding Israel's creation in 1948.

“We are against transfer to any place, in any form, and we consider it a red line that we will not allow to be crossed," Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said of the report. “What happened in 1948 will not be allowed to happen again."

A mass displacement, Abu Rudeineh said, would be “tantamount to declaring a new war.” So far more than 8,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, have been killed since Israel initiated a full-scale offensive in Gaza since Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel.

The document is dated October 13 and it was first published by Sicha Mekomit, a local news site. In its report, the Intelligence Ministry — a junior ministry that conducts research but does not set policy — offered three alternatives.

The document proposes moving Palestinian population in Gaza to tent cities in northern Sinai of Egypt, then building permanent cities and an undefined humanitarian corridor.

A security zone would be established inside Israel to block the displaced Palestinians from entering. The report did not say what would become of Gaza once its population is cleared out.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. But Egypt has made clear throughout this latest conflict that it is completely against the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza.

Egypt has long concerned that Israel wants to force a permanent expulsion of Palestinians into its territory, as happened during the war surrounding Israel's establishment.

Egypt ruled Gaza between 1948 and 1967, when Israel occupied the territory, along with the West Bank and East al-Quds. The majority of Gaza's population consists of grandchildren of Palestinian refugees who fled the Israeli occupation.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that the mass refugee influx from Gaza would replace the Palestinian cause and warned that this move would harm the Palestinian cause.

(Source: Agencies)

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