Far-right MKs announce formation of Knesset caucus to push resettlement of Gaza

Founders of new parliamentary group claim settling enclave is only way ‘to prevent the continuation of terrorist threats’ and will lead Hamas to free the hostages

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Israeli children play on a sand dune overlooking their homes in the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, in the Gush Katif bloc  in the southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 8, 2005. N (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
File: Israeli children play on a sand dune overlooking their homes in the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, in the Gush Katif bloc in the southern Gaza Strip, August 8, 2005. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Building on National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s calls to establish Jewish communities in Gaza following the war with Hamas, two far-right lawmakers on Monday announced the establishment of a “Knesset Caucus for the Renewal of Settlement in the Gaza Strip.”

The move was announced in a joint statement by MK Limor Son Har-Melech, of Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party, and by Religious Zionism MK Zvi Sukkot.

They stated that the lobby, whose launch is slated for Tuesday at the Knesset, is necessary because in the wake of the 2005 disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank “and the terrorism that followed… settlement in the Gaza Strip [is] a necessary step to protect Israel’s security and ensure its future.”

“Only by a dense presence of Jewish settlements throughout Gaza will it be possible to prevent the continuation of terrorist threats and deter the enemy,” they stated.

“Only settlement will bring security,” said Sukkot, a prominent radical settler activist who has been arrested multiple times. “Only Jewish children playing in the Strip will make the Nova terrorists realize that they have lost.”

“When they realize that they are losing control of Gaza and losing the land of Gaza, they will be ready to release hostages without setting conditions that pose a threat to the existence of the State of Israel,” he added.

MK Limor Son Har-Melech attends the Otzma Yehudit faction meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on June 3, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Son Har-Melech, who was a resident of the northern West Bank settlement of Homesh before it was razed in 2005, argued that “if we do not plant deep Jewish roots in the land of Gaza, the enemy will continue to expand the range of his attacks and continue to threaten us.”

“Without settlement, not only the residents of the Gaza border area but also the residents of the north and other parts of the country will never feel safe,” she asserted.

Homesh, along with Sa-Nur, Ganim, and Kadim, were evacuated and partially demolished at the same time that all Israeli settlements in Gaza were evacuated in 2005. That unilateral disengagement was accompanied by a law banning Israeli citizens from being in those areas, which the Knesset voted to repeal last year.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out against the idea of Israel governing Palestinians in Gaza after the war, numerous ministers and coalition lawmakers attended a conference in January advocating the rebuilding of Israeli settlements in the heart of Gaza, while encouraging Palestinians in the enclave to leave.

MK Zvi Sukkot reacts during a conference on the recognition of the State of Palestine at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on June 4, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The idea of Gaza residents finding new homes outside the enclave after the war has been widely rejected by the international community, in particular Arab nations, who have insisted that there be no displacement of Palestinians.

More than half of Israelis oppose annexing the Gaza Strip and reestablishing settlements uprooted during Israel’s 2005 Disengagement, according to a poll from the Hebrew University published last December.

A more recent survey carried out by the Pew Research Center between March 3 and April 4 found that fifty percent of Jewish Israelis support occupying the Gaza Strip after the war against Hamas ends — although it did not explicitly ask about settlement.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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