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Israel in discussions with Congo to resettle Palestinians from Gaza

January 3, 2024 at 4:26 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on December 10, 2023 [RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The Israeli government is increasingly adopting the “voluntary” resettlement of Palestinians from Gaza as official policy, with a high-ranking official disclosing that it has engaged in discussions with multiple countries regarding the potential for such moves.

According to the Times of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition is discreetly exploring the acceptance of thousands of migrants from Gaza, with the Democratic Republic of Congo being one of the countries under consideration. “Congo will be willing to take in migrants,” said a senior source in the security cabinet, “and we’re in talks with others.”

During a Likud faction meeting on Monday, Netanyahu announced that he is involved actively in arranging for the voluntary migration of Gazans to other countries. “Our problem is finding countries that are willing to absorb Gazans,” he said, “and we are working on it.”

Addressing Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon’s claim that, “The world is already discussing the possibilities of voluntary migration,” the prime minister acknowledged the challenge of finding countries willing to accept Gazans, but emphasised ongoing efforts in that regard. Despite these discussions, the idea of voluntary migration has faced widespread rejection from the international community.

The US State Department yesterday slammed recent statements by far-right Ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir advocating the “voluntary emigration” of Palestinians out of Gaza, calling the rhetoric “inflammatory and irresponsible”, Reuters has reported.

The comments from the ministers appeared to underscore fears in much of the Arab world that Israel wants to forcibly displace and ethnically cleanse the occupied Palestinian territories, just as Zionist terrorist gangs did in historic Palestine in 1948.

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While reports have emerged of offers for Arab forces and governments to administer Gaza, such as the Palestinian Authority or a combined force of Arab states, the predominant view on the part of Israel’s far-right government has been for Israel itself to re-occupy the Strip, expel its Palestinian population and resettle the land with Israelis and Jewish settlers.

Israel is continuing with its brutal military offensive in Gaza despite global calls for a ceasefire in the 11-week-old war. The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on 7 October against Israeli military bases and settlements in the vicinity of Gaza, during which 1,139 Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed, many of them by “friendly fire” from the Israel Defence Forces. The operation was in response to “daily Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people and their sanctities,” said Hamas, notably Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. Around 240 Israelis were captured during the operation, 110 of whom have already been exchanged for some of the thousands of Palestinians held by Israel.

Palestinian health authorities say that more than 22,000 people have been killed in Israeli air and artillery strikes since 7 October, most of them children and women. Israeli bombs have laid much of the occupied Palestinian territory to waste. Thousands more Palestinians are buried under the rubble of their homes and other civilian infrastructure. Nearly all the enclave’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes, many several times. A humanitarian catastrophe is engulfing Gaza, with famine looming.

READ: Doctors Without Borders: No longer have words to describe the ‘horror’ in Gaza