At first, some of Israel’s supporters in the United States brushed aside the idea of permanently relocating Palestinians from Gaza, considering it the vision of a small group within Netanyahu’s government. However, recent revelations show that this strategy is now endorsed by the Israeli Intelligence Ministry. A leaked document, made public by the local Israeli news agency, outlines a plan to compel Gaza residents to move to the deserts of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, with no intention of them returning.
This plan can be seen as a reptation of what Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” which was the mass expulsion of Arab residents in 1948 to establish the State of Israel. The secret deportation directive, dated October 13, lays out four stages, and some of these stages have already been put into action
First, all Palestinian civilians were to be informed to vacate the northern Gaza area ahead of IDF ground operations. This was being portrayed globally as an attempt to prevent unnecessary harm to civilians while the military focused on Hamas. The evacuation notice was issued on the same day that the Intelligence Ministry circulated this plan within the Netanyahu cabinet.
Second, the IDF will start launching a series of ground attacks that move from the northern to the southern areas of the Gaza Strip. Alongside sustained airstrikes, this ground campaign is aimed at physically removing Palestinians from the region, essentially forcing them off the land. At the time of this report, this phase is already in progress, with Israeli tanks reportedly nearing Gaza City. According to the plan, the objective is to remove Hamas fighters, resulting in the permanent occupation of the entire Gaza Strip by Israel.
Third, all exits from Gaza, with the exception of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, are to be firmly sealed, leaving Palestinians with only one path to escape the destruction. The ministry emphasized the importance of keeping the southern traffic lanes open to facilitate the evacuation of the civilian population towards Rafah. Up to this point in the conflict, the Egyptian government’s reluctance to accept refugees has disrupted the complete execution of this stage, but the IDF is resolved to continue pushing Gazans in that direction regardless
Fourth, Fourth, when Egypt be persuaded to accept the Palestinian population, Israel would establish temporary tent cities in the northern Sinai desert, with eventual plans to construct complete the permanent resettlement of those who were displaced from their homes and land.
The Intelligence Ministry proposes establishing a “sterile zone” extending several kilometers inside Egypt, where residents would be prohibited from returning to live or engage in activities near the Israeli border, essentially creating a permanent uninhabited area.
The policy document stresses the vital need to “persuade” Palestinians to voluntarily depart and surrender their lands through a continuous propaganda campaign The messages should revolve around the loss of the land, making clear that there is no longer any hope of returning to the territories that Israel will occupy in the near future,” it states.
The ministry wrongly imagines that it can persuade residents to leave by referring to their loyalty to Islam. According to a draft, “Allah made sure that you lost this land because of the leadership of Hamas.” “With the assistance of your Muslim brothers, there is no other option but to relocate.”
Additionally, it asks the international community—particularly the United States, Israel’s strongest ally—to assist in carrying out the expulsion by applying pressure to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to agree to Israel’s requests.
Since it is unlikely that Egypt would be able to accommodate them all, Washington will also likely put pressure on nations such as Greece, Spain, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and others to accept refugees.
The ministry specifically criticizes Canada for what it refers to as its “lenient” immigration laws.
The Western media is supposed to portray the ethnic cleansing of Gaza “in a way that does not incite and blacken Israel.” The plan is to portray it as a humanitarian effort that will result in “fewer casualties among the civilian population” in order to prevent it from being perceived as the mass deportation that it actually is.
Speaking to the media, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh stated, “We are against transfer to any place, in any form, and we consider it a red line that we will not allow to be crossed.” “What happened in 1948 will not be allowed to happen again.”
Although Egypt has not yet released an official response to the strategy paper, al-Sisi’s administration has made it clear time and time again that it will not take in a large number of Palestinian refugees during the conflict. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced into Egyptian territory and adjacent countries like Jordan by Israeli soldiers during the 1948 conflict.
Following the document’s release, Netanyahu administration representatives attempted to minimize its significance right away. The Israeli daily Haaretz was informed by the Prime Minister’s Office that this was merely a representation of some “initial thoughts,” not an established policy. It was described by a representative as merely a “concept paper.”
The effort was aided by pro-government media, which asserted that the Intelligence Ministry had binding authority when it came to military planning and was more like an internal think tank.