Israel’s Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has issued a video calling on Palestinians in Gaza to overthrow Hamas in order to turn “the refugee camps into the Singapore of the Middle East”.
The video, which was spoken in Hebrew with English subtitles, was distributed by Israel’s Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) yesterday and circulated on its social media outlets.
Lieberman said in the video that “my message to the people of Gaza is simple: you can choose between poverty and unemployment or work and making a livelihood, between hatred and bloodshed or coexistence and personal security.” He added: “We [Israel] can be your ideal partners in an effort to turn the refugee camps into the Singapore of the Middle East.”
Lieberman continued by saying “all that is necessary for this is recognition the State of Israel’s right to exist in peace, demilitarisation and the resolution of the issue of captives and MIAs.” He claimed “if your leadership is unwilling to do so, replace your leadership.”
The video also offered Gazans advice on how to begin overthrowing their leadership, referring to Hamas which has governed the besieged Strip since 2007. Lieberman explained: “Begin with a social media campaign [which says] ‘we want a livelihood, we want water, we want electricity’.”
The message will raise eyebrows in light of Israel’s ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip which has routinely deprived the enclave of access to water, power, medical supplies and medication. The Strip has also strangled the Gazan economy, with reports earlier this month showing that up to 80 per cent of factories in the territory have shut down, leaving 300,000 Gazans unemployed.
The video also comes amid Israel’s closure of the Kerem Shalom (Karm Abu Salem) crossing. Situated on the southern tip of the Gaza Strip, the crossing is the only commercial route in and out of the territory and is a vital source of food, aid and commercial goods. Last week, gas distribution companies in Gaza announced that the Strip had run out of cooking gas reserves following the closure of the crossing. Head of the Popular Committee Against the Siege, Jamal Al-Khodari, yesterday said the move was causing “the gradual collapse of the industrial and commercial sectors in the Strip.” The reopening of the crossing has been tied to the maintenance of quiet in Gaza after an escalation in tensions over the weekend.
Lieberman has been at the forefront of calls to punish Gaza for the wave of balloons and kites that have been launched from inside the Strip in recent months. The kites have been flown over Israeli territory in the wake of the Great March of Return and have reportedly caused material damage in southern Israel. Last week, Lieberman was quoted by Israeli media as saying: “Hamas is forcing us into a situation where we will have no choice but to embark on a large and painful military operation.”