Nakba 2023 in Gaza

November 17, 2023

An Israeli document recommends that Israel "evacuate Gazans to Sinai" during the war: build tent cities and new towns in northern Sinai.
Palestinians help elderly woman to walk as they leave from the northern part of the Gaza to flee the central and southern parts of the Gaza Strip on November 10, 2023. Photo by Anadolu Images.


n official document of Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence recommends that Israel carry out a forced and full transfer of all residents of the Gaza Strip to North Sinai, Egypt as the preferred option among the three alternatives it offers regarding the future of the Palestinians in the Strip at the end of the war and calls on the international community to harness the move. The document also suggests promoting a dedicated campaign for the residents of Gaza that will “motivate them to agree to the plan.”

The document recommends that Israel act “to evacuate the Gazan population to Sinai” during the war: to establish tent cities and new cities in northern Sinai, which will accommodate the deported population, and then “to create a sterile zone of several kilometers inside Egypt and not allow the population to return to activity or residence near the Israeli border.” At the same time, countries in the world, and primarily the USA, must be harnessed to implement the move.

The ten-page document is dated October 13, 2023 and features the logo of the Ministry of Intelligence headed by minister Gila Gamliel of the Likud. An official at the Ministry of Intelligence confirmed to “Local Talk” that this is an authentic document, which was distributed to the security system on behalf of the Ministry’s Policy Division, and “was not supposed to reach the media.”

The document unequivocally and explicitly recommends carrying out a transfer of civilians from Gaza as the desired outcome of the war. This week its existence was reported in “Calcalist”. The transfer plan is divided into several phases: in the first phase, the population in Gaza must be “vacated to the south”, while the Air Force strikes will focus on the northern part of the Strip. In the second phase, ground entry into Gaza will begin, which will lead to the occupation of the entire strip, from north to south, and the “cleansing of the underground bunkers from Hamas fighters.”

At the same time as the Gaza Strip is occupied, the citizens of Gaza will move to Egyptian territory, leave the Strip, and will not be allowed to return to it permanently. “It is important to leave the traffic lanes towards the south usable, to allow the evacuation of the civilian population towards Rafah,” the document states.

According to an official at the Ministry of Intelligence, the Ministry’s personnel stand behind these recommendations. The source emphasized that the ministry’s studies “are not based on military intelligence” and are only used as a basis for discussions in the government.

In the document, it is proposed to promote a dedicated campaign for citizens in Gaza that will “motivate them to agree to the plan”, and make them give up their lands. “The messages should revolve around the loss of the land, that is, to make it clear that there is no longer any hope of returning to the territories that Israel will occupy in the near future, whether it is true or not. The image should be “Allah made sure that you lost this land because of the leadership of Hamas – there is no choice but to move to another place with the help of Your Muslim brothers,” the document reads.

In addition, it is written that the government must lead a public campaign that will promote the transfer program in the Western world “in a way that does not incite and blacken Israel”, in which the deportation of the population from Gaza will be presented as a humanitarianly necessary move and will receive the support of the world because it will lead to “fewer casualties among the civilian population compared to the expected number of casualties.”

The document also states that the US should be harnessed to the move so that it will put pressure on Egypt to take in the residents of Gaza, and to harness other European countries, and in particular Greece, Spain and Canada, to help absorb and settle the refugees who will be evacuated from Gaza.

Last week, the Meshgav Institute, a right-wing research institute led by Meir Ben Shabat, a close associate of Netanyahu and the former head of the National Assembly, published a position paper that similarly called for the forced transfer of the population of Gaza to Sinai. The institute recently deleted the publication from Twitter after it drew strong international reactions.

Interestingly, the deleted study was written by Amir Weitman, an activist in Likud, and according to evidence, is also an associate of Minister Gila Gamliel in the Ministry of Intelligence. Weitman recently interviewed Knesset member Ariel Kellner of the Likud, who told him that “the solution you are proposing, moving the population to Egypt, is a logical and desirable solution.”

In relation to this difficulty, the document states that Egypt will have an “obligation under international law to allow the passage of population”, and that the United States can contribute to the move by exerting “pressure on Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to contribute to the initiative either in resources or in taking in displaced persons”. The document proposes starting a dedicated public campaign that will be addressed to the Arab world, to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia, “in which the message of aid to the Palestinian brothers and their rehabilitation is focused, even at the cost of a tone that scolds or offends Israel.”

Finally, it is written that “massive migration” of the population from combat zones is a “natural and necessary result” that also happened in Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine and that only the deportation of the population will be “an appropriate response that will allow the creation of a significant deterrent in the entire region.”

“The most dangerous alternative”: a Palestinian state

The document presents two other alternatives regarding the citizens of Gaza the day after the war. The first is to import the rule of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, and the second is to grow another local Arab rule as an alternative to Hamas. Both alternatives, it is claimed, are not desirable from a strategic and security point of view for the State of Israel. The drafters of the study claimed that the introduction of the Palestinian Authority into Gaza is the “most dangerous alternative” of the three alternative scenarios, because it could “lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

“The division between the Palestinian population in Yosh and Gaza is one of the main obstacles today to the establishment of a Palestinian state. It is not possible that the result of this attack (Hamas, October 7), will be an unprecedented victory for the Palestinian national movement and paving the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state,” the document reads.

The document claims that a model of Israeli military rule and PA civilian rule, as exists in the West Bank, is expected to fail in Gaza. “There is no way to maintain an effective military occupation in Gaza only on the basis of a military presence and without settlement. In a short time there will be an internal Israeli and international demand for withdrawal.”

The drafters of the document added that in such a situation the State of Israel “will be considered a colonialist power with an occupying army… similar to the situation of Yosh today, only worse”. This is a reason to think that it will be possible for her to rule there today.

The last alternative, the formation of a local Arab leadership to replace Hamas, is not desirable according to what is written in the document, because there are no local opposition movements to Hamas and the new leadership may be more radical. “The likely scenario is not an ideological change of perception, but the establishment of new, perhaps even more radical, Islamist movements,” it says in relation to this alternative.

What is truly astounding is not the dangerous thinking of this document but the fact that such recommendations are all too typical of those at the core of the Netanyahu cabinet and that the views of such zealots are not aberrations. Top Israeli officials admitted they are ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Israeli Security Cabinet member Avi Dichter boasted, “We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba”, in reference to the colonial mass expulsion of 1948.

As the incremental genocide of the Palestinian people unfolds under an open concentration camp, I am reminded of the words of Yeshayahu Leibowitz the great Israeli Orthodox Jewish public intellectual and polymath known as “the conscience of Israel”: “Since the Six-day war Israel is no longer a democracy. It deprives 2 million people of civil and political rights. The State of Israel is the only dictatorship that exists today in the enlightened world. A Judeo-Nazi mentality exists in our country!”

Khalid Latif is an Independent Research Analyst based in Islamabad and graduate of Tufts University. He can be reached at [email protected]