UN says it is ‘very disturbed’ by Smotrich, Ben Gvir’s call for Palestinians to leave Gaza

Palestinians wait at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt after being evacuated from the Gaza Strip, on December 26, 2023. (AFP)
Palestinians wait at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt after being evacuated from the Gaza Strip, on December 26, 2023. (AFP)

UN human rights chief Volker Turk says he is “very disturbed” after comments by far-right Israeli ministers calling for Palestinians to leave Gaza.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called this week for promoting “a solution to encourage the emigration of Gaza’s residents” and the re-establishment of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip. His comments came the day after Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also called for the return of Israeli settlers to Gaza, adding that Israel should “encourage” the territory’s approximately 2.4 million Palestinians to leave.

“Very disturbed by high-level Israeli officials’ statements on plans to transfer civilians from Gaza to third countries,” Turk writes on X, adding that “international law prohibits forcible transfer of protected persons within or deportation from occupied territory.”

Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor the cabinet as a whole have officially suggested plans to evict Gazans or to send Jewish settlers back to the territory since the war broke out in October, and Israeli officials have rejected reports that it is pursuing such aims.

Most Popular