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IDF soldier wears ‘Greater Israel’ badge, sparking angry reaction

June 19, 2024 at 2:47 pm

Israeli soldiers stand guard in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip during an operation of humanitarian aid delivered from Jordan to the Palestinian territory through the Israeli controlled Erez terminal, on May 1, 2024. [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

Images of an Israel Defence Forces soldier wearing a uniform badge depicting a map of Greater Israel during operations in Gaza has sparked widespread controversy on social media platforms in Arab countries. The map displayed on the soldier’s sleeve included not only Israel, but also vast swathes of territory from neighbouring countries, including Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and parts of Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

Social media comments included those saying that the map reflects the expansionist agenda of Zionist Israel. This, said some, is reminiscent of historical imperial ambitions. Comparisons were drawn with Nazi Germany’s concept of “Lebensraum”, or living space for the chosen race.

The concept of Greater Israel is rooted in certain interpretations of Zionist ideology, which assert that the “promised land” of the Bible extends from the River Nile in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Iraq, and from the Litani River in Lebanon to Madinah in Saudi Arabia.

This interpretation has been the subject of controversy since the establishment of the Israeli occupation state in 1948. Zionists and their supporters view it as the fulfilment of a religious prophecy, while critics condemn it as a justification for territorial expansion at the expense of neighbouring countries and their sovereignty.

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