From Siege to Exodus: The Looming Threat of a Second Palestinian Nakba”
Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:
In an alarming statement that has raised tensions across the Middle East, Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu has publicly acknowledged Israel’s nuclear capabilities for the first time. This unprecedented admission has reverberated worldwide, bringing a new level of concern to the ongoing conflict in the region.
Adding to the international unease, Minister Eliyahu suggested the possible use of nuclear force as a ‘possible solution’ to the conflict with Gaza. This stance has provoked widespread condemnation and raised serious ethical questions. The minister’s comments have sparked a wave of outrage within Israel itself, with critics condemning his apparent disregard for the lives of 240 people reportedly being held in Gaza but not the broader implications of using nuclear weapons against a civilian Palestinian population in the modern era.
Adding to the controversy, Eliyahu has spoken out against the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza, making a controversial comparison to withholding assistance from the Nazis and claiming that there are no innocent civilians in the enclave. These comments have intensified the debate over the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the conduct of warfare in densely populated areas, which violate international laws and confirm the committed crimes against humanity.
This revelation comes against a backdrop of unrelenting conflict, as Palestinian resistance forces continue to launch attacks deep into Israeli territory, including the heart of Tel Aviv. Despite encirclement and relentless bombardment by sea, air and land, the resistance in Gaza continues as Israeli troops advance deeper into the northern sectors of Gaza City.
The humanitarian toll of this protracted siege is mounting at an alarming rate of 37,000 killed, wounded and missing. The United Nations, from its offices in Geneva, has reported a chilling statistic: the death toll of children in Gaza has reached 3,900 and 2,200 women out of 9,500 total killed, with the number tragically rising every day. The daily death toll now stands at 420 children, painting a grim picture of Gaza as a burgeoning graveyard, a stark testament to the brutality of war.
Minister Eliyahu’s rhetoric not only sheds light on the Israeli-Zionist perspective but also reveals the strategic intentions behind the military aggression. He has expressed a vision of a post-conflict Gaza, reshaped by destruction and possibly repopulated by former Israeli settlers from Gush Katif, the community uprooted in 2005.
The minister’s words drew a line between the current conflict and the historical events 1948. He is suggesting an impending second ‘Nakba’ – a catastrophe that could trigger another mass displacement of Palestinians unless resistance prevails or slows down the invaders’ advance in what is described as a protracted and narrow theatre of operations.
Amid these developments, Egypt has emerged as a vocal opponent of the Palestinian exodus towards the Sinai desert, suggesting to send the Palestinians towards the Negev.
A wave of discourse has emerged on American social media platforms, led by media figures and academics, asking the question: “Why does Egypt refuse to accept Palestinian Muslims and Arabs?” However, this question is a smokescreen for a more hidden agenda. According to sources, the United States is reportedly in talks with Egypt, proposing that the country accept Palestinians, possibly as a temporary. This proposal comes against the backdrop of a longstanding Palestinian diaspora dating back to 1948. This situation persists despite United Nations resolutions affirming their right to return to their ancestral lands.
Amid these discussions, Israel is reportedly seeking the support of the United States, using financial incentives and significant debt relief to persuade Egypt. However, the Egyptian authorities have so far rejected these overtures. This reluctance, observers say, stems from the belief that the underlying objective is not simply the removal of Hamas – a goal publicly stated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – but a broader strategy to facilitate the transfer of Gaza’s Palestinian population to the Sinai Peninsula, thereby enabling Israel to reassert control over the Gaza Strip. Egypt feared a longue exodus that could trigger an Egyptian population support for the Palestinian cause, destabilising the Israeli-Egyptian relationship and peace deal.
Amid the turmoil of the conflict, a narrative is taking shape within certain Israeli media outlets – those typically aligned with the military and known for their support of the war rather than criticism. These publications are amplifying the voices of former settlers who once lived in Gaza, particularly near Rafah, expressing a strong desire to return, backed by what appears to be an official nod of approval.
This narrative is not merely anecdotal but appears to be part of a larger, more orchestrated agenda aimed at the potential displacement of Palestinians, depending on the outcome of the ongoing Israeli ground offensive. The second week of this offensive has seen a marked slowdown due to the determined resistance of Palestinian forces in northern Gaza. Israeli tanks are meeting fierce resistance as they advance, and there is a palpable reluctance to deploy infantry in significant numbers. This reluctance stems from a fear of heavy casualties, a risk exacerbated by the willingness of Palestinian fighters entrenched in an extensive network of tunnels to engage in intense urban combat against advancing Israeli forces.
The situation remains fluid, with Israeli military strategy facing unexpected challenges on the ground as the Palestinian resistance demonstrates both resilience and tactical acumen in the face of a powerful adversary.
The Israeli military’s incursion into Gaza appears to be strategically calculated, targeting areas. One is Juhr al-Dik, north of the Gaza Valley, a critical crossroads that divides north and south. Having assessed the strength of the resistance in their initial foray and conducted aggressive reconnaissance, the Israeli forces appear to be preparing for a sustained campaign, possibly lasting several weeks.
Advancing from the northeast along the Beit Hanoun-Jabalia axis and from the northwest along the coastal front, Israeli units are methodically moving to encircle and converge in the northeast, taking advantage of the sparsely populated peripheries and the open, navigable terrain that gradually thickens towards the centre. Despite the challenges and delays posed by the dense urban fabric and the extensive destruction left by last month’s rocket barrages, the progress of the Israeli engineering corps is unlikely to be halted.
Israel is attempting to take control of the width and length of northern Gaza with the possible intention of destroying it or forcing its inhabitants to evacuate, thus creating an uninhabited buffer zone. This strategy would first force the Palestinians into the southern part of the Gaza Strip and then distance the Palestinian resistance, requiring longer-range rockets for retaliation. Israel has strategically left open a corridor for northern residents to minimise the civilian presence in the North and concentrate the population in the south. This move could be a prelude to a full-scale invasion of the entire sector, should Israel see fit.
In a tactic reminiscent of previous conflicts, Israel has distributed thousands of leaflets urging civilians to evacuate from the North to the South, a move designed to facilitate the occupation of northern Gaza and displace its residents. This displacement would not only burden the southern resistance with the need to provide shelter and services. Still, it could also be used to pressure Hamas to release Israeli prisoners without reciprocal concessions.
Despite Israel’s claims to have decimated the resistance’s defences, the reality on the ground tells a different story. The resistance has consolidated its positions underground and within the urban fabric, signalling that the conflict is far from over. Defence Minister Yoav Galant has stated in no uncertain terms that war is an unavoidable reality that could last a month or even a year, underlining the ongoing and entrenched nature of this conflict. Notwithstanding Israel’s strategic manoeuvres and heavy bombardment by land, air and sea, the Israeli invasion has met with significant resistance, with at least 345 members of the occupation forces reportedly killed. Defence Minister Yoav Galant has publicly acknowledged the challenges facing the Israeli military, stating that ‘the incursion will be painful’ and describing the fighting on Gaza’s borders as ‘fierce’. These admissions come amid an intense bombing campaign by Israel, the explosive yield of which has reached a staggering 25,000 tonnes – the equivalent of more than one nuclear bomb with a potential output of 15,000 tonnes.
Israel’s Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevy, has described the conflict as both brutal and exhausting. The scale of destruction wrought by the Israeli military is extensive, with 200,000 homes destroyed and countless massacres, most recently the bombing of hospitals, ambulances, journalists, schools and places of worship, including 55 mosques and three churches.
Amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza, there is a remarkable unity within Israeli society in support of the military campaign. The Israeli leadership acknowledges that the effort will come at a significant cost. However, there is a popular preference for air strikes over a ground invasion. The rationale behind this preference is twofold: to inflict maximum damage on Palestinian infrastructure and homes – the current conflict has already displaced over 1.6 million people internally – and to avoid a repeat of the costly battle of 7 October. It is believed that a ground offensive would not guarantee the release of Israeli hostages and could even endanger their lives or lead to their deaths.
The fabric of Israeli society, which has seen hundreds of thousands emigrate in recent months as a result of the hardline policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government and the subsequent attacks on areas around the occupied Gaza Strip, is showing signs of strain as the conflict drags on. This social pressure is likely to increase, especially if the Israeli military suffers more significant human losses – a factor of which the Palestinian resistance is well aware.
Despite Israel’s firm stance that a ceasefire is not currently under consideration, US President Joe Biden has announced the necessity of a temporary ‘humanitarian ceasefire’ to facilitate the safe departure of foreign nationals, including 400 Americans and their families, totalling around 1,000 people. However, this move is not the comprehensive ceasefire that the US has repeatedly vetoed at the United Nations, signalling a complex interplay of international diplomacy and domestic pressure as the conflict unfolds.
The resilience and bravery of the Palestinian resistance have been crucial in thwarting the forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and the confiscation of their homes, as well as preventing Israel from establishing a buffer zone. The multifaceted approach of operating on several fronts has proved to be a significant strategy, causing distraction and disarray within the Israeli military and its operational command, despite the United States securing the Israeli airspace along with its Middle Eastern allies (Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan) by intercepting drones and missiles launched from Iraq or Yemen.
The deployment of American Special Forces at the entrances to Gaza and within the operational command centres, acting as a protective barrier against possible intervention by Hezbollah and Iran, does not eliminate the possibility of direct attacks on Israel. If attempts are made to displace Palestinians forcibly from the Gaza Strip, or if Israeli tanks advance towards southern Gaza to crush Hamas and other Palestinian factions, it may be necessary to intervene on several fronts. Such a scenario poses a challenge that Israel and the United States may find difficult to contain, possibly leading to a concerted effort to avert a second Palestinian catastrophe similar to the Nakba.
The fate of Palestine, therefore, depends on the results of the ground attack in the North and the steadfastness of the resistance in confronting the enemy directly and inflicting crucial damage to the occupier in urban and existing battles. These efforts are aimed at preventing the consolidation of the invading forces, inflicting heavy human losses on them and ensuring that the war remains ongoing, costly and challenging for the invading army, Israeli society and the American administration.
The ongoing conflict in Gaza is likely to continue as long as Israel maintains its stance against a ceasefire without achieving its objectives and as long as it continues to receive American support. The US has justified Israel’s actions, including civilian casualties, by echoing Israel’s claims that Hamas operates within civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. This justification will remain valid as long as the political and military status of Hamas in Gaza remains unchanged and Israel fails to achieve a decisive victory that could offset the setbacks it has suffered since the events of 7 October.
The ambitions of Israeli and American leaders to completely eradicate Hamas from Gaza and secure the release of prisoners without concessions appear increasingly unattainable. Global public movements and protests have added to the complexity, eroding the initial support Israel and its allies enjoyed at the start of the conflict.
Israel’s threats to use nuclear weapons and its actions that have resulted in the deaths of women and children, wiped out entire family lines and reduced buildings and hospitals to rubble have been exposed to the international community. These actions, which include cutting off essential services to civilians, committing massacres and violating international law, have been widely condemned as war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
Despite the gravity of these actions, the prevailing view is that Israel will not succeed in inflicting a second catastrophe on people who have become accustomed to the spectre of death and who would rather die defending their land and what remains of their homes and heritage.
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With over 35 years’ experience in war zones across the Middle East and Africa, I write exclusive news and analysis on the world’s most complex conflicts.