‘The nation demands occupation’: Minister shares post calling for conquest of Sinai

Amichai Eliyahu retweets call to buy shirts printed with a map of an expanded Israel — including the West Bank, Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai — emblazoned with the slogan ‘Occupation Now’

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"

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu speaks during the funeral of terror victim Matan Elmaliach at the Maale Adumim cemetery, February 22, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu speaks during the funeral of terror victim Matan Elmaliach at the Maale Adumim cemetery, February 22, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Far-right Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu on Wednesday retweeted a social media post promoting the sale of merchandise calling for the occupation of the Sinai Peninsula, more than four decades after Israel returned the territory to Egypt as part of the two countries’ landmark 1979 peace treaty.

The tweet, by user Ayelet Lash, called on the public to purchase a shirt printed with what is supposed to be a map of Israel — including the West Bank, Gaza and Sinai — emblazoned with the slogan “Occupation Now.”

It also contained a link to a website selling “Occupation Now” merchandise and advocating for the expansion of Israeli sovereignty into Sinai, southern Lebanon and, eventually, Jordan.

The original post, which was promoted by Eliyahu, declared: “The people demand an occupation! Occupation now!”

Neither the minister’s spokesman, nor one representing National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, responded to requests for comment. Ben Gvir is the leader of Eliyahu’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to comment when asked for its view on the minister’s post.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said earlier this year that Cairo is committed to upholding its peace treaty with Israel despite concerns over the IDF’s military operations in southern Gaza, which borders Egypt as well as Israel.

Eliyahu has a history of contentious rhetoric, including accusing Israel’s security chiefs of “rebelling” against the current coalition, calling anti-government protesters “evil,” and dubbing Bank of Israel governor Amir Yaron a “savage.”

Last November, he sparked international outrage by claiming that dropping a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip was an option, a statement called “detached from reality” by Netanyahu.

That statement was later cited by South Africa in a motion accusing Israel of genocide before the International Court of Justice, prompting Eliyahu to later brag that “even in The Hague they know my position.”

In an interview with The Times of Israel in February, Eliyahu — the son of Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and grandson of late Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu — lashed out at the international community for objecting to “voluntary” Palestinian emigration from, and renewed Israeli settlement of, Gaza.

“Where there is settlement, there will be security,” he said. “You don’t speak to people from weakness. And it’s preferable to return to settlements than to war and killing.”

Calls for the reestablishment of settlements evacuated during Israel’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza have increased on the political right since October 7.

Settler in the Gaza Strip settlement of Netzarim argues with soldiers who have come to evacuate him from his home, accusing them of betraying Jewish values, during the disengagement from Gaza, August 22, 2005. (Flash90)

While Netanyahu has come out against the idea of Israel building settlements in Gaza after the war, 11 ministers and 15 coalition lawmakers, including Eliyahu, attended a mass conference in January advocating the rebuilding of Jewish Israeli settlements in the heart of the Gaza Strip.

More than half of Israelis oppose annexing the Gaza Strip and reestablishing settlements uprooted during the disengagement, according to a Hebrew University poll published in December.

Some Israelis have also begun advocating for the annexation and settlement of southern Lebanon in recent months, but this view remains confined to a small fringe.

Last week, the security cabinet approved legalizing five West Bank outposts and the advancement of plans for over 6,000 new settlement homes.

“Since the start of the war, the Israeli government has focused all its efforts on building, developing and investing in construction across the West Bank,” the left-wing Peace Now watchdog said earlier this week.

Most Popular
read more: