An Israeli cabinet official has publicly admitted to the government’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, saying on television over the weekend that the country is “rolling out the Gaza Nakba.”
On Saturday, security cabinet member and Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter sat for a television interview with an Israeli news network. Dichter is part of the right-wing nationalist Likud party, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs.
“We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba,” Dichter said when asked if the recent images of northern Gaza residents evacuating south are comparable to images of the 1948 Nakba.
“From an operational point of view, there is no way to wage a war ― as the IDF seeks to do in Gaza ― with masses between the tanks and the soldiers,” he continued, according to a translation of the interview by Haaretz.
The Nakba, which in Arabic means “catastrophe,” refers to the mass displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Palestine was considered a multi-ethnic society until the tension between Arab and Jewish people rose as a result of both Jews migrating to flee persecution in Europe, as well as the Zionist movement attempting to establish a Jewish ethnostate in Palestine.
The tension escalated to war in 1948 after the UN General Assembly’s resolution trying to partition Palestine into two states was rejected a year earlier. The war resulted in the permanent displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by the newly formed Israeli forces.
Despite the UN calling for Palestinian refugee return and property restitution, Israel has continued to deny the rights of Palestinians and carry out an apartheid for 75 years. The anniversary of the Nakba serves as a painful acknowledgment of the generational and ongoing trauma that Palestinians face both on their occupied land and outside the region.
“Gaza Nakba 2023,” Dichter said. “That’s how it’ll end.”
When later asked if labeling the current forced evacuation a Nakba means Palestinians won’t be able to return to Gaza City, Dichter said: “I don’t know how it’ll end up happening since Gaza City is one-third of the Strip ― half the land’s population but a third of the territory.”
Israel’s monthlong siege on Gaza has killed more than 11,000 people and displaced millions. Israeli forces told Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza to avoid being killed, though several areas in the southern region have also been bombed.
On Friday, Netanyahu said that he wants “full security control” of Gaza with the power to “enter whenever we want” to kill who Israel perceives to be enemies.