Gallant: Palestinians — not Israel — will run civilian affairs in post-war Gaza

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant tours the central Gaza border, January 4, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant tours the central Gaza border, January 4, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant outlines his vision for who will run Gaza after the war, asserting that local Palestinians will be in charge of civilian affairs while Israel will maintain overall security control over the enclave.

While these stances are shared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the emphasis on Palestinian civilian control over Gaza and the lack of Israeli civilian presence there has angered hardline coalition partners, with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaking out against the plan while a member of the war cabinet suggested that the defense minister is merely speaking for himself.

“There will be no Israeli civilian presence in the Gaza Strip after the goals of the war have been achieved,” Gallant says in a briefing to reporters.

“Gaza residents are Palestinian, therefore Palestinian bodies will be in charge on the condition that there will be no hostility to Israel,” he asserts.

As for who will manage Gaza’s security after the war, the defense minister says that Israel will not allow Hamas to control Gaza, nor pose a security threat to its citizens. As such, it will reserve its operational freedom of action in Gaza.

IDF troops seen operating inside the Gaza Strip in this handout photo released for publication on January 4, 2023. (IDF)

Gallant says Israel will transition to what he calls Phase III of the fighting during which the fighting in northern Gaza will be at a lower intensity and include raids, the destruction of terror tunnels, aerial and ground activities, and special operations.

In southern Gaza, operational efforts will focus on eliminating Hamas leadership and enabling the return of the hostages, Gallant says.

Phase III’s combat objective is the erosion of remaining terror hotspots in Gaza, according to Gallant.

The defense minister does not provide a timeline for when Israel will transition to Phase III, saying it is contingent on the achievement of certain military goals that cannot be shared with the press.

He says the IDF’s fighting in Gaza will continue until the hostages are returned, Hamas’s military and governing capabilities are dismantled and all military threats from Gaza are removed.

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