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Israeli government talks about the atomic bomb in Gaza

Jesus Carames

November 5, 2023 | 4:00 pm

Israel's political landscape has witnessed significant controversy following statements by Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu regarding the use of nuclear weapons in the Gaza Strip. These words have generated an immediate and forceful reaction both within the government and the opposition, highlighting the tensions and ethical and legal challenges that Israel faces in its policy towards Gaza.

Incendiary Statements by Amichai Eliyahu

An Extreme Proposal

Amichai Eliyahu, a minister from a far-right party, suggested in a radio interview that the use of nuclear weapons in Gaza was "an option." His claim that "there are no non-combatants in Gaza" and his rejection of humanitarian aid for the Strip have been points of particular controversy.

The Metaphor that Ignited the Controversy

Eliyahu later clarified that his comments were "metaphorical." However, the damage was done, and his words were widely condemned both nationally and internationally.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's Response

A Categorical Rejection of the Statements

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly responded, calling Eliyahu's comments "far from reality." Netanyahu emphasized that Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) act in accordance with international law to prevent harm to non-combatants.

Suspension of Eliyahu from Government Meetings

As a disciplinary measure, Netanyahu's office announced that Eliyahu would be suspended from government meetings until further notice, a decision that reflects the seriousness with which the Israeli government treated the incident.

Reactions from the Opposition and Other Ministers

Calls to Action by the Opposition

Opposition leader Yair Lapid demanded Eliyahu's ouster, arguing that the presence of radicals in the government endangers Israel and its war goals, including the defeat of Hamas and the return of all hostages.

Condemnations and Clarifications Within the Government

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the Otzma Yehudit party to which Eliyahu belongs, spoke with the minister and stressed that the comments were metaphorical. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also spoke out against Eliyahu's statements, calling them "baseless" and expressing relief that people with such ideas are not in charge of Israel's security.

Conclusion: A Critical Moment in Israeli Politics

Amichai Eliyahu's statements and subsequent response illustrate a critical moment in Israeli politics, where extremist rhetoric and its consequences are in the spotlight. This incident has not only sparked a debate about ethics and legality in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but has also revealed internal tensions within the Israeli government. Netanyahu's swift response and widespread condemnation of Eliyahu's statements show a commitment to certain ethical and legal principles, despite the country's complex political dynamics. The situation underscores the importance of responsible and measured discourse on issues of national security and international relations.

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