An Israeli ministry, in a ‘concept paper,’ proposes transferring Gaza civilians to Egypt’s Sinai - MEDIA

An Israeli ministry, in a ‘concept paper,’ proposes transferring Gaza civilians to Egypt’s Sinai - MEDIA
# 31 October 2023 16:17 (UTC +04:00)

An Israeli government ministry has drafted a wartime proposal to transfer the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, APA reports citing Associated Press.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office assessed the report compiled by the Intelligence Ministry as a hypothetical exercise — a “concept paper.”

“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.”

The document is dated Oct. 13. 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 “to effect a significant change in the civilian reality in the Gaza Strip in light of the Hamas crimes that led to the Sword of Iron war.”

The document’s authors deem this alternative to be the most desirable for Israel’s security.

The document proposes moving Gaza’s civilian population to tent cities in northern Sinai, 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 war that it does not want to take in a wave of Palestinian refugees.

Egypt would not necessarily be the Palestinian refugees’ last stop. The document speaks about Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates supporting the plan either financially, or by taking in uprooted residents of Gaza as refugees and in the long term as citizens. Canada’s “lenient” immigration practices also make it a potential resettlement target, the document adds.

At first glance, this proposal “is liable to be complicated in terms of international legitimacy,” the document acknowledges. “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.”

An Israeli official familiar with the document said it isn’t binding and that there was no substantive discussion of it with security officials. 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,” the prime minister’s office said.

The document dismisses the two other options: reinstating the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority as the sovereign in Gaza, or supporting a local regime.

The reinstatement of the Palestinian Authority, which was ejected from Gaza, would be “an unprecedented victory of the Palestinian national movement, and does not safeguard Israel’s security,” the document says.