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Israel's Ben Gvir says he wants to live in Gaza

The far-right security minister says the expulsion of Palestinians is the 'most important step' in achieving full Israeli occupation of Gaza
Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir greets people gathering outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem on 18 May, 2023 (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir greets people gathering outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem on 18 May 2023 (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's far-right national security minister, said Gaza should be under “full Israeli control” and populated with Jewish settlements, suggesting that he himself would move to the war-torn Palestinian enclave.

In an interview with Israeli news outlet Kikar HaShabbat, Ben Gvir said that “encouragement of voluntary emigration” of Palestinians from Gaza was the “last” and “most important step” in achieving Israel’s total occupation.

“If the emigration happens, and hundreds of thousands leave, you’ll be able to bring more and more and more people in,” he added.

He emphasised that “many more” settlers would be needed to reconstruct the existing abandoned settlements and establish new ones across the enclave, adding that he himself would be “very happy to live in Gaza”.

"Will you be the first one to go and live there?" Ben Gvir was asked.

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"Yes, why not?" he replied.

There are 2.3 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Around 35,000 of those have been killed by Israeli attacks and 1.7 million displaced.

Last week, the national security minister spoke at a rally in southern Israel and called for the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza and the construction of Jewish settlements there.

Speaking at the rally, Ben Gvir said that the reconstruction of settlements in Gaza was the "real solution" to the current conflict.

"We can sit in the cabinet and press for action in Rafah, not compromise on ending the war, demand that targeted countermeasures be taken, but in order to end the problem, so that the problem does not return, we need two things that must be done: one - return to Gaza now!" he told the crowd.

"Returning to our holy land. To encourage the residents to leave! This is the truth! This is the only way."

After capturing Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war, Israel constructed 21 settlements in the enclave that were populated by Jewish settlers.

However, the settlements were later dismantled and evacuated in 2005 by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, a move that was staunchly opposed by many right-wing Israelis, including Ben Gvir.

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