An Israeli General has urged for a repeat of the 1948 military massacre that resulted in Israel's occupation of the Naqab Desert, also known as the Negev, and the forceful expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents.
Major General Yom-Tov Samiah, who served as commander of the Southern Zone in the Israeli Army during the Second Intifada, wrote on Twitter: "Operation 'Yoav' will soon return to liberate the Negev. Luckily General Shaike Gavish, who led the operation at the time is alive. He will pass on some lessons."
Operation Yoav was one of the two large-scale operations launched by the army in October 1948, which opened a road to the Negev.
Nearly 120,000 Palestinians, including the elderly, women and children resided in the area; however, following Israel's massacre and policy of large-scale village depopulation and expulsions, only 30,000 Palestinians were left.
"If we continue at this rate of loss of control we will have to retake the Negev and Galilee. Civil war is on the doorstep," added Major General Yom-Tov Samiah.
בקרוב שיחזור מבצע יואב לשחרור הנגב. מזל שהאלוף שייקה גביש עדיין חי, יעביר לקחים. אם נמשיך בקצב הזה של אובדן שליטה נצטרך להשתלט מחדש על הנגב והגליל. מלחמת אזרחים בפתח וכולם מתעסקים עם פאקקטה אומיקרון pic.twitter.com/Rjv1BH4PrA
— יום טוב סמיה (@YomTovSamia) January 14, 2022
Many Negev Bedouin, Arab residents who have Israeli citizenship, live in unrecognised townships scattered across the southern desert.
READ: Israeli police arrest 41 Arabs in the Negev, amid protests
Hundreds of local Arabs demonstrated in the Negev in recent days in protest of the confiscation of their lands by the Jewish National Fund, an organisation that collects money from Jews around the world to seize Palestinian property.
The police used sound bombs, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse people, causing several injuries, according to the statement.
Arab citizens in the Negev region are estimated at around 300,000, living on 5 per cent of their land, 95 per cent of which they say has been confiscated by Israel since 1948.
Note: This page was updated at 10.07 UTC on 21 February 2021 to clarify that the population dropped as a result of Israel's policy of village depopulation.