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War on Gaza: Israeli MP says 'no innocents' in Gaza and it should be 'burned now'

Nissim Vaturi's inflammatory comments are latest among ruling Likud party lawmakers, ahead of genocide case at ICJ
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment on Khan Yunis from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip early on 3 January 2024 (AFP)
An Israeli bombardment of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on 3 January 2024 (AFP)

An Israeli lawmaker from the ruling Likud party doubled down on comments he made last month that Gaza should be "burned now", stating that there were no innocent people left there. 

According to a report in Haaretz on Wednesday, Nissim Vaturi said he did not see anything wrong with his previous statements and stood by them. 

"It is better to burn, to bring down buildings than for soldiers to be hurt," the parliamentarian said during an interview with Israel's Kol Barama radio station on Wednesday. 

He claimed that everyone in the northern Gaza Strip had been evacuated in an "orderly" fashion. 

Israel has forcibly displaced nearly 1.9 million people in Gaza since war broke out on 7 October. Many Palestinians were killed while raising white flags and fleeing on roads designated by Israel as safe. 

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"I don't think there are any innocents there now, not now and not when I said those things," Vaturi said. 

Vaturi’s statements were not the first inflammatory comments made by MPs and ministers belonging to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party since the Gaza war began.

String of inflammatory comments

In the first few days of the conflict, Likud MP Revital "Tally" Gotliv urged the Israeli army to use a “Doomsday weapon” in Gaza, in what was widely thought to be referring to nuclear weapons. 

“I urge you to do everything and use Doomsday weapons fearlessly against our enemies,” Gotliv wrote on social media platform X, calling upon Israel to use “everything in its arsenal”.

In November, Galit Distel Atbaryan, Israel's former public diplomacy minister, called for Gaza to be “erased from the face of the Earth”, stating that the besieged enclave should be “wiped out” by a “vengeful and vicious” Israeli army.

'I urge you to do everything and use Doomsday weapons fearlessly against our enemies'

Revital Gotliv, Likud MP

After being shown a video of the 7 October attacks carried out by Palestinian fighters on southern Israeli communities, Distel Atbaryan posted on Facebook urging Israelis to invest their energy on Gaza’s “monsters”, forcibly expelling them into Egypt or just “let[ting] them die”.

Days later, Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu floated the possibility of resorting to nuclear weapons in Gaza. When asked during a radio interview with Kol Barama about a hypothetical nuclear option in the war, he responded: “That’s one way.”

Eliyahu was later suspended from cabinet meetings until “further notice” and took to social media to suggest his remarks were “metaphorical”.

Last week, lawmaker Moshe Saada said that widespread calls he had heard from the Israeli public to “destroy all Gazans” had proven that the “right-wing was right about the Palestinian issue”.

Saada’s remarks came after South Africa filed a lawsuit against Israel in the International Court of Justice, accusing it of breaching the 1948 Geneva Convention in its war on Gaza. The first hearing will be held at The Hague on Thursday.

The Hamas-led attacks on southern Israeli communities on 7 October killed around 1,200 Israelis, the majority of whom were civilians.

Since then, the Israeli military has waged a relentless bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 23,200 Palestinians, including over 9,000 children.

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