War on Gaza: Israel’s defence minister says he opposes open-ended military rule

Yoav Gallant calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to present a clear plan for post-war governance in Gaza

MEE staff

Palestinians carry some of their belongings as they walk through a debris-strewn street in al-Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City, on 15 May (AFP)

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Wednesday to present a clear plan for post-war governance in the Gaza Strip, saying he would not support open-ended Israeli military rule over the Palestinian territory.

Gallant told reporters that for the past seven months, he had promoted a plan for a new Palestinian administration not linked to Hamas to govern the territory, but received “no response” from various Israeli cabinet forums.

“A dangerous trend is developing that advances the idea of Israeli military and civilian governance in Gaza,” Gallant was quoted as saying.

“This is a negative and dangerous option for the State of Israel strategically, militarily, and from a security standpoint,” he said.

“[Should this be the decision], military rule in Gaza would become the main security and military effort of the State of Israel over the coming years, at the expense of other arenas. The price paid would be bloodshed and victims, as well as a heavy economic price,” Gallant added.

His comments came hours after Netanyahu released a video statement where he said discussions concerning the “day after” were meaningless until Hamas was defeated.

In response to Gallant’s comments, Netanyahu said that Hamas’s elimination had to be pursued “without excuses” to pave a path to an alternative government in Gaza. 

Netanyahu, who has faced calls to resign over his government’s failure to secure a ceasefire deal with Hamas and bring home the captives still held in Gaza, has been reticent to discuss post-war plans for several months.

When he last spoke about the issue in February, he proposed that Israel continue to maintain security control over the occupied West Bank and Gaza when the war ended. 

Netanyahu said that Gaza would be “demilitarised” in the medium term, and proposed that Israel would have a presence along the Gaza-Egypt border, including at the Rafah crossing. 

Regarding governance, Netanyahu had suggested replacing Hamas with local representatives “who are not affiliated with terrorist countries or groups, and are not financially supported by them”. 

Arab multinational force

Earlier on Wednesday, MEE reported that Bahrain had signalled its willingness to be a member of an Arab multinational force that would administer security in Gaza once the war had come to a close.

A US official familiar with the Biden administration’s plans for the region said that Washington had made several overtures in recent weeks to see if Bahrain would be a member of the force that would fill the security vacuum in Gaza until a Palestinian governing authority could be formed.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that the Biden administration had also approached Egypt, Morocco and the UAE to take part in the Gaza multinational force. 

On Saturday, the UAE ruled out taking part in the administration of Gaza, saying it would not provide “cover” for Israel’s actions.

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed made the comments after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested the Gulf state would be involved in overseeing the running of the Gaza Strip after the end of Israel’s assault.

Since the events of 7 October, when a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,171 people and more than 200 people being taken back to Gaza as captives, the enclave has been under total siege and deprived of basic necessities, while facing a devastating bombing campaign by Israel.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and around 1.7 million displaced, in what was described at the International Court of Justice in January as a plausible genocide.

Nearly 77,000 people have also been wounded, according to health officials. The figures exclude tens of thousands of dead who are believed to be buried in the bombed-out ruins of homes, shops, shelters, and other buildings.

Israel’s defence minister says he opposes open-ended military rule in Gaza

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