Ben Gvir calls to ‘encourage emigration,’ resettle Gaza at ultra-nationalist rally

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, MK Zvi Sukkot also urge Israeli resettlement of Strip at march interrupted by rocket fire directed at Sderot by Palestinian terror groups

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Thousands of people turn out for an ultra-nationalist march and rally in Sderot to call for the rebuilding of Jewish settlements in Gaza, May 14, 2024. (Courtesy Nachala Settlement Movement)
Thousands of people turn out for an ultra-nationalist march and rally in Sderot to call for the rebuilding of Jewish settlements in Gaza, May 14, 2024. (Courtesy Nachala Settlement Movement)

Cabinet ministers and MKs called for the rebuilding of Jewish settlements in Gaza at an ultra-nationalist march and rally attended by thousands in the town of Sderot, close to the Gaza border on Tuesday.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir declared that the “voluntary emigration” of Palestinians from Gaza should be promoted, Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi insisted that the resettling of Gaza was the only way to ensure Israeli security, and Religious Zionism MK Zvi Sukkot blamed the October 7 massacres on the 2005 Disengagement Plan.

Organizers claimed that some 50,000 people turned up for the Independence Day march promoted under the banner of building Jewish settlements in Gaza from where some 15 settlements and around 8,500 settlers were evacuated in 2005.

The Nachala Settler Movement, an organization with a radical history of illegal settlement activity, organized the event along with other hardline religious-Zionist and ultranationalist groups, including Hotam, Sovereignty and The Jewish Truth, among others.

Some 11,750 people had registered for the event as of Tuesday morning, but Nachala claimed that fully 50,000 turned out for the event.

During the march, Palestinian terror groups in Gaza fired three rockets at Sderot, forcing the participants to lie flat during the event due to the lack of cover. The rockets were intercepted by air defense systems, the Sderot Municipal Authority said.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir calls for ‘voluntary emigration’ of Palestinians from Gaza and the resettling of Gaza by Israel at a march and rally in the town of Sderot close to the Gaza border, May 14, 2024. (Courtesy Office of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir)

At the rally, a presentation was made of the six cadres formed by Nachala for the establishment of six new settlements in Gaza that were first unveiled at a resettle Gaza conference held in Jerusalem in January, which was also organized by Nachala and drew international condemnation.

“To end the problem, in order that the problem won’t come back, we need to do two things: one return to Gaza now! Return home! Return to our holy land! said Ben Gvir from the stage of the rally set up at the end of the march.

“And second, encourage emigration. Encourage the voluntary departure of Gaza’s residents…It is ethical! It is rational! It is right! It is the truth! It is the Torah and it is the only way! And yes, it is humane,” he continued.

This is the second time the ultra-nationalist minister has publicly promoted Palestinian emigration from Gaza as a means of resolving the conflict, having done so at a January resettle Gaza conference.

Karhi, a hard-right member of the Likud party, made similar comments.

“In order to preserve the security achievements for which so many of our troops gave up their lives for, we must settle Gaza, with security forces and with settlers,” said Karhi at the rally.

Thousands of people turn out for an ultra-nationalist march and rally in the Gaza-border town of Sderot to call for the rebuilding of Jewish settlements in Gaza, May 14, 2024. (Courtesy Nachala Settlement Movement)

“This is not because there is no other option, but out of a deep understanding that this is the only real way, both to exact a heavy price from the Nazis, from Hamas, and to protect our people and our homeland. We will wipe out the disgrace of the year 2005 with settlement in the year 2024-2025, God willing,” said the minister.

Sukkot, an ultra-nationalist MK with a long record of illegal settlement activism, said the march was designed to “rectify the terrible crime of expelling Jews from Gush Katif,” using the Hebrew term for the Gaza settlements that were evacuated during the Disengagement.

“Those who expelled the Jews of Gush Katif are directly responsible, with their own hands, for the terrible massacre of Simchat Torah,” in reference to the October 7 atrocities perpetrated by Hamas last year.

“They disparaged us then, they got hundreds of generals and ‘security experts’ to sign [declarations] that the Disengagement would bring about security…we shouted ourselves hoarse but they didn’t care.”

Sukkot, like Ben Gvir, also called to promote Palestinian emigration from Gaza, adding that Israel should “tell the countries of the world who with hypocritical morality care for the Gazans that they [Gazans] will be much safer with them in other countries. If they love them so much, South Africa should take the residents of Jabaliya.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the idea of Israeli civilians resettling Gaza. The idea of Palestinians from Gaza finding new homes outside after the war has also been widely rejected by the international community, in particular Arab nations, who have insisted that there be no further displacement of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.

The US has called earlier calls by Ben Gvir  “inflammatory and irresponsible.”

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