Netanyahu’s ‘day after’ Hamas plan emphasizes security control
IDF soldiers leave the Gaza Strip in the Beit Hanun area as part of a rotation of forces, Jan. 30, 2024. (Photo: TPS)

The Israeli prime minister for the first time formally presented his post-war vision, which includes empowering “local officials” to govern Gaza.

By Charles Bybelezer
February 24, 2024

(JNS) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night formally presented for the first time his “day after” Hamas plan, which reiterates his oft-stated goal of completely eradicating the Palestinian terror group and emphasizes ongoing Israeli security control west of the Jordan River, including in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

In the short term, the plan emphasizes the need to completely eliminate the military and governing capabilities of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, free the remaining 134 Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza and ensure that the Strip never again constitutes a security threat to the Jewish state.

To this end, Netanyahu envisions the Israel Defense Forces maintaining full operational freedom in Gaza indefinitely, as well as establishing a buffer zone along the border to protect southern communities.

The buffer zone will remain in place for “as long as there is a security need for it,” according to the proposal.

The military will act to ensure that the Strip remains demilitarized, “beyond what is required for the needs of maintaining public order.” This includes creating a “southern closure” along the Egypt-Gaza border, including the Rafah crossing, to prevent the re-emergence of terrorism and smuggling through Hamas’s elaborate tunnel system in the Philadelphi Corridor.

In this matter, Israel will work in cooperation with Egypt and the United States “as much as possible.” 

In parallel, the IDF will empower “local officials” unassociated with Hamas to govern areas of Gaza. Israel’s goal is for community leaders to manage the reception and distribution of humanitarian aid, while security forces will prevent terrorists from interfering with this process.

According to reports, Gazan representatives recently met with Israeli officials to discuss launching a pilot program for civil governance in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood.

Netanyahu’s program includes a comprehensive de-radicalization process that replaces school curricula with textbooks that do not promote violent rejection of Israel and hatred towards Jews. Moreover, Gazan authorities will not be connected to or funded by “countries or entities that support terrorism.”

Netanyahu’s proposal conditions the reconstruction of Gaza on both its demilitarization and de-radicalization, which will proceed “as much as possible with the involvement and assistance of Arab countries that have experience” in this regard.

It also entails a concerted effort to shut down UNRWA, some of whose workers participated in the Oct. 7 massacre and whose institutions have been infiltrated by Hamas. The plan calls for the U.N. agency to be replaced by “responsible” international aid organizations.

Finally, Netanyahu’s proposal reiterates Israel’s rejection of any unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, amid reports the Biden administration is considering such a move.

Earlier this week, the Knesset plenum voted 99-11 to back an earlier government decision against “international diktats regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians,” with Netanyahu describing such a prospective as a “reward for terrorism.”

“We will not reward terrorism by unilateral recognition in response to the Oct. 7 massacre, nor will we accept imposed solutions,” said Netanyahu on Wednesday.

“This strong stance sends a powerful message to the world: Peace and security for Israel will be achieved through negotiations, not through unilateral actions. Today, we stand united more than ever,” he added.

Netanyahu’s office on Thursday night released a statement saying that “the prime minister’s [post-conflict] document of principles reflects broad public acceptance of the goals of the war and of the civilian alternative to Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.”

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