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Israel-Palestine war: Israeli minister says nuking Gaza 'an option'

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu has since been suspended indefinitely from government meetings
Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said nuking Palestinians was an option (Screengrab/X)

Israel's Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said on Sunday that dropping a nuclear weapon on the Gaza Strip is "an option", according to Haaretz.

The minister made the comments in a radio interview during which he maintained that "there are no non-combatants in Gaza", adding that providing humanitarian aid to the Strip would constitute "a failure".

Eliyahu was then asked if, since there are no non-combatants in his view, a nuclear attack on the Gaza Strip is an option. "That's one way," he responded.

When asked about the fate of Palestinians, he said: "They can go to Ireland or deserts, the monsters in Gaza should find a solution by themselves."

He also said the Gaza Strip has no right to exist, adding that anyone waving a Palestinian or Hamas flag "shouldn't continue living on the face of the earth".

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The remarks were heavily criticised online, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later saying they were "detached from reality".

Opposition leader Yair Lapid also lambasted the minister for his comments, stating it was "a horrifying and insane remark by an irresponsible minister".

"He offended the families of the captives, offended Israeli society and harmed our international standing," he added. 

After making the comments, the minister took to social media platform X, formerly Twitter, to say that his comments were "metaphorical".

He added: "However, a strong and disproportionate response to terrorism is definitely required, which will clarify to the Nazis and their supporters that terrorism is not worthwhile." 

The minister was later suspended from government meetings indefinitely, Israeli media reported, citing a statement by the prime minister's office.

Firing is 'meaningless', ministers say

However, Israeli government ministers reportedly said that Netanyahu's suspension of Eliyahu is "meaningless", Israeli media reported. 

"This is a joke, there barely are any cabinet meetings anyway, and most of the work is being done in rounds of votes by phone," an unnamed minister is quoted as saying by the Ynet news site.

A cabinet meeting scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled, with no alternative date set.

Follow Middle East Eye's live coverage for the latest on the Israel-Palestine war

This is not the first time Israeli leaders and ministers have deployed dehumanising and incendiary rhetoric in public and used the language of collective punishment when describing their military response to Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israeli southern towns on 7 October.

Palestinians have been described as "human animals" and "beasts", with one former Israeli general saying his military "must create an unprecedented humanitarian disaster in Gaza".

At least 9,488 people have been killed, including 3,900 children and 2,500 women, since Israel started its most aggressive bombing campaign in Gaza since the start of the war.

The Israeli military has decimated entire neighbourhoods, and continuously targeted hospitals, bakeries, civilian infrastructure, mosques, and schools sheltering thousands of displaced people. It also laid a total siege on the already-blockaded enclave.

Netanyahu and other politicians have spoken in apocalyptic terms about enacting revenge.

"We will destroy them and we will forcefully avenge this dark day that they have forced on the state of Israel and its citizens," Netanyahu said on 8 October.

Around 1,400 Israelis were killed in Hamas's attack, and at least 200 people were taken hostage.


The Israeli minister's comments have drawn widespread condemnation. 

Saudi Arabia condemned Eliyahu's remarks "in the strongest terms", saying such statements show the spread of "extremism and brutality" among members of Israel's government.

Palestine’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the comments, saying that "these remarks are a translation of the genocidal war that Israel has been waging against the Gaza Strip for 30 days."

According to Euro-Med Monitor, Israel has dropped more than 25,000 tons of explosives on the Gaza Strip since the start of its large-scale war on 7 October, equivalent to two nuclear bombs.

According to the Geneva-based human rights organisation, the Israeli army has admitted to bombing over 12,000 targets in the Gaza Strip, with a record tally of bombs exceeding 10 kilograms of explosives per individual.

Euro-Med Monitor highlighted that the weight of the nuclear bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of World War II in August 1945 was estimated at about 15,000 tons of explosives.

"Due to technological developments affecting the potency of bombs, the explosives dropped on Gaza may be twice as powerful as a nuclear bomb," the monitor said.

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