Netanyahu’s new military secretary wrote plan backing Israeli control of post-war Gaza

Roman Gofman says he wrote plan as personal opinion, though report says it was distributed among ‘all decision-makers’ in political and security echelons; IDF: Not our position

Brig. Gen. Roman Gofman in an undated photo (Israel Defense Forces)
Brig. Gen. Roman Gofman in an undated photo (Israel Defense Forces)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pick as his next military secretary recently wrote a document recommending Israel retain control over the Gaza Strip after defeating Hamas in the ongoing war in the Palestinian enclave, the Israel Hayom outlet reported Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Roman Gofman was tapped for the military secretary position two weeks ago.

According to the report, the opinion was distributed among “all decision-makers on the political level and in the security establishment.” The outlet did not report when the document was circulated.

Israel’s position since the start of the campaign has been that it will not take control of Gaza but rather seeks a replacement regime to take over from Hamas.

Though security officials said they believe that Gorman wrote the document in coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office, or even at the request of the PMO, Gofman denied such speculation and said he wrote it of his own accord as a personal opinion, according to the report.

The IDF said in response that “this is an internal and classified document which presents the position of the officer only, and does not represent the official position of the IDF.”

Troops operate in the Gaza Strip in a photo cleared for publication on April 19, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Gofman began his army career in the armored corps and as he rose through the ranks has held various positions, among them as a top officer in COGAT, the Defense ministry body that coordinates with Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Gofman, who most recently served as commander of the Tzeelim training base, will be promoted to the rank of major general upon entering the role, at a date yet to be determined. He will replace Maj. Gen. Avi Gil, who served in the position for nearly three years.

Gofman was seriously wounded during clashes with Hamas terrorists near Sderot during the October 7 Hamas onslaught that started the current war. He later recovered.

On October 7 Hamas led a devastating cross-border attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians. Israel responded with a military campaign to destroy Hamas, topple its regime in Gaza, and free 253 hostages who were abducted during the Hamas attack and taken captive in Gaza.

Palestinians walk past damaged buildings in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip on April 8, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

The government has not yet presented a comprehensive plan for who will take over Gaza after Hamas. In the meantime, right-wing activists, including government ministers, have openly called for establishing Israeli control over the Strip on a permanent basis.

At a January conference in Jerusalem, 11 government ministers and 15 coalition lawmakers pledged to rebuild Jewish Israeli settlements in the heart of the Gaza Strip, with some also encouraging the emigration of the Palestinian population after the war with Hamas is over.

Netanyahu himself didn’t attend the conference, and indicated the night before that he opposes resettling Gaza and that this wasn’t accepted government policy.

The Palestinian Authority has been reluctant to say it will take over Gaza, demanding that such a move should be part of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Israel has said the PA should have no role in governing Gaza due to its failure to condemn Hamas’s attacks and what Israel says is ongoing incitement to terror through its education system and media as well as financial compensation for terrorists and their families.

Israel in 2005 dismantled its 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and compelled some 8,000 residents to leave, when it unilaterally withdrew from the Strip, pulling back to the pre-1967 lines. Hamas violently ousted the Fatah faction of the Palestinian Authority and seized power in Gaza in 2007, prompting Israel and Egypt to impose a blockade to try to limit the terror group’s ability to arm itself.

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