Israeli 'Concept Paper' on Gaza's 2.3M People Worries Egypt

Report deemed a hypothetical by Netanyahu proposes moving Palestinians to Egypt's Sinai
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 5, 2023 5:01 AM CST
Updated Nov 5, 2023 5:03 AM CST
Israeli 'Concept Paper' on Gaza's 2.3M People Worries Egypt
Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip in Rafah on Monday.   (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)

An Israeli government ministry has drafted a wartime proposal to transfer the Gaza Strip's 2.3 million people to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, drawing condemnation from Palestinians and worsening tensions with Cairo. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office played down the report compiled by the Intelligence Ministry as a hypothetical exercise—a "concept paper." But its conclusions deepened long-standing Egyptian fears that Israel wants to make Gaza into Egypt's problem, and revived for Palestinians memories of their greatest trauma: the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of people who fled or were forced from their homes during the fighting surrounding Israel's creation in 1948, per the AP.

The document is dated Oct. 13, six days after Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people in southern Israel and took 240-plus people hostage in an attack that provoked a devastating Israeli war in Gaza. It was first published by Sicha Mekomit, a local news site. In its report, the Intelligence Ministry offered three alternatives "to effect a significant change in the civilian reality in the Gaza Strip in light of the Hamas crimes" that led to the war. The document's authors deem the Sinai alternative to be the most desirable for Israel's security, proposing moving Gaza's civilian population to tent cities in northern Sinai, then building permanent cities and an undefined humanitarian corridor.

A security zone would be established inside Israel to block the displaced Palestinians from entering. The report didn't say what would become of Gaza once its population was cleared out. The document also dismisses two other options: reinstating the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority as the sovereign in Gaza, or supporting a local regime. Egypt's Foreign Ministry didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. But Egypt has made clear throughout this latest war that it doesn't want to take in a wave of Palestinian refugees, and Palestinians are similarly against the idea.

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"We are against transfer to any place, in any form, and we consider it a red line that we will not allow to be crossed," Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a rep for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said of the report. "What happened in 1948 will not be allowed to happen again." So far, more than 8,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, have been killed since Israel went to war against Hamas after its Oct. 7 attack. Much more here. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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