Benjamin Netanyahu announced his endgame in Gaza: the “voluntary migration” of Palestinians forced to choose between leaving or dying by bombardment and starvation. His goal is to end the Palestinians as a people and as a national movement.
On Christmas Day, the Wall Street Journal thought it appropriate to publish an Op-Ed by the world leader who is currently slaughtering more innocents than any other, Benjamin Netanyahu. In that article, Netanyahu gave us his “vision” for his endgame in Gaza. He laid out three aims: “Hamas must be destroyed, Gaza must be demilitarized, and Palestinian society must be deradicalized. These are the three prerequisites for peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors in Gaza.”
Israel maintains that destroying Hamas will take months and perhaps years. Already, most Gazans are struggling to find shelter, food, and water. Decent medical care has become almost an impossible dream as medical professionals scramble to do what they can without supplies, medical equipment, electricity, or even hospital facilities. Disease, malnutrition, exposure, infection from wounds, horrendous sanitary conditions, and other threats are running rampant. It’s important to realize that the people dying from these causes are not being recorded in the daily casualty counts.
All of that is after less than three months. 1% of Gaza’s population has already been killed, and fungal infections are so widespread they’re even killing Israeli soldiers now. Imagine what things will be like in another month, let alone a year.
By “demilitarized,” Netanyahu means a permanent Israeli military presence not only in Gaza but also at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. This is ostensibly to prevent weapons smuggling, but there is no such thing as stopping smuggling — no country has ever been able to do that. Occupied people, besieged people, and people living under tyranny will always find a means of resistance.
When Netanyahu says “deradicalized,” what he is referring to is a “re-education” program for Palestinians so they will learn to love their Israeli colonizers. His comparison to Germany and Japan after World War II is so absurd it hardly merits discussion. But to be clear, the Allied powers, after devastating both Germany and Japan, actively rebuilt the countries and boosted the countries’ economies toward independence and growth. They gave the people of Germany and Japan a reason to want to reconcile with the Allied powers and to see their respective pre-war governments as having led them to disaster.
Netanyahu does not intend to do this, or anything of the kind. The last thing he wants to see is any kind of independent Palestine. He’s certainly made that plain enough times. And he has no intention of rebuilding Gaza with a vibrant economy, but to repeat the isolation Gaza has experienced since 1948, first by Egypt, and then, since 1967, by Israel. His notion that “ Palestinian civil society needs to be transformed so that its people support fighting terrorism rather than funding it,” reads as a ridiculous fantasy that arises from the false, racist notion that Palestinians are being taught to resent Israelis, not that the experiences of violence, killings, deprivation, and humiliation by Israel might just engender some negative feelings.
Additionally, that concept of “deradicalization” is not only offensive in its explicit denial of the conditions that have led to Palestinian resistance—legal under international law or otherwise—it is also so elastic that Israel could accuse even the most quisling Palestinians, like the Palestinian Authority, of remaining “radical” until the end of time no matter how much they kowtow to their occupiers. And Netanyahu has every reason to believe Israel will be supported in this by Washington and Brussels.
No, this was not about describing how to end the slaughter in Gaza. It was about declaring that the carnage would be going on for a long time and that its ultimate goal, as has been clear since October 7, is to finally end the struggle over Palestine by destroying the Palestinians as a people and as a national movement.
The plan, as Netanyahu elaborated at a Christmas Day meeting of his Likud faction, is to squeeze the people of Gaza so hard they will have no choice but to leave or die. “Regarding voluntary emigration, I have no problem with that,” he told Likud Knesset Member and former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon. “Our problem is not allowing the exit, but a lack of countries that are ready to take Palestinians in. And we are working on it. This is the direction we are going in.”
The term “voluntary emigration” is likely to be heard quite a lot in the coming weeks and months, and it is one of the most cynical, dishonest terms one can imagine. There is, of course, nothing voluntary about people leaving Gaza. Israel has made the place unlivable, and that was before the current bombardment.
Now, they are essentially being forced to leave under the threat of imminent death. The people of Gaza did not suddenly lose their attachment to Palestine. They will die if they stay, as will their children. If you cut off water, electricity, food, and medical care, destroy all the shelter, and then ask a person, “Would you still like to stay?” their decision to leave is obviously not voluntary. …