By Ben Norton / Geopolitical Economy Report
The Israeli government is in the process of ethnically cleansing more than 1 million Palestinians, pushing them out of their homes in Gaza.
According to senior Israeli officials, the plan of the far-right Benjamin Netanyahu government is to force Palestinians into the desert of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where they will live in so-called “tent cities”.
At the same time, Israel is brutally bombing the besieged Gaza strip – one of the most densely populated areas on Earth.
There are even reports that Israel has attacked convoys of Palestinian civilians who were abiding by its evacuation order and fleeing from the north to the south of the 40-kilometer strip.
Meanwhile, the United States has adamantly refused to support calls for peace.
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Instead, the State Department told US diplomats not to mention the phrases “de-escalation/ceasefire”, “end to violence/bloodshed”, and “restoring calm” when discussing Gaza, according to a memo obtained by HuffPost.
On 12 October, Israel ordered the roughly 1.1 million Palestinians living in the northern half of Gaza to evacuate to the south.
The United Nations warned that it would be “impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences”.
The UN “strongly appealed” for the Israeli evacuation order “to be rescinded”, noting it “could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation”.
Israel ignored the UN and instead cracked down even harder, bombing Palestinian civilians as they evacuated.
The BBC acknowledged that the Israeli military attacked a Palestinian convoy, writing, “These vehicles were carrying civilians, who were fleeing northern Gaza after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued an evacuation order”.
The BBC verified a video of the attack, describing it as “a scene of total carnage”, which “is too graphic for us to show”.
“Bodies, twisted and mangled, are scattered everywhere”, the BBC described, adding that many of the victims of the Israeli attack were women and children, including infants aged 2 to 5 years old.
The Associated Press confirmed the same, writing:
Two witnesses reported a strike on fleeing cars near the town of Deir el-Balah, south of the evacuation zone and in the area Israel told people to flee to. Fayza Hamoudi said she and her family were driving from their home in the north when the strike hit some distance ahead on the road and two vehicles burst into flames. A witness from another car on the road gave a similar account.
As of 14 October, Israel had killed at least 2,215 Palestinians, including 724 children and 458 women, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
Another 8,714 Palestinians have been wounded in a week of Israeli attacks, among them 2,450 children and 1,536 women.
Meanwhile, top Israeli officials have engaged in borderline genocidal rhetoric.
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog declared at a press conference that the country is at war with the “entire nation” of Gaza.
“It is an entire nation out there that is responsible” Herzog said, in reference to Palestinians.
“It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not being aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up [against Hamas]”, he argued, in comments reported by HuffPost.
According to Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, Israel’s plan is to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and force them into Egypt.
Citing an anonymous high level source, Hersh wrote, “I have been told by an Israeli insider that Israel has been trying to convince Qatar, which at the urging of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a long-time financial supporter of Hamas, to join with Egypt in funding a tent city for the million or more refugees awaiting across the border”.
This plan was in fact confirmed by Israel’s former deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, who previously served as the Israeli ambassador to the United States and a foreign policy adviser for far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In an interview with Al Jazeera reporter Marc Lamont Hill on 12 October, Ayalon stated:
DANNY AYALON: This was, this is thought out. It’s not something that we tell them, go to the beaches, go drown yourselves, God forbid, not at all. There is a huge expense, almost endless space in the Sinai desert, just on the other side of Gaza.
The idea is – and this is not the first time it will be done – the idea is for them to leave over to the open areas where we and the international community will prepare the infrastructure, you know, tent cities, with food and with water – you know, just like for the refugees of Syria that fled the butchering of Assad a few years ago to Turkey; Turkey received 2 million of them.
This is the idea. Now Egypt will have to play ball here, because once the the population is out of sight, then we can go…
I’ll tell you in a practical manner what we should do, and what we can do: create, like in the past, in history, a humanitarian corridor.
When there is a humanitarian corridor – and we have been discussing this with the United States – then we can guarantee in this corridor that nobody will get hurt.
Now, again, I say, there is a way to receive them all on the other side for temporary time, on the Sinai, because what did Hamas turn –
MARC LAMONT HILL: On the other side? Are we talking about Rafah? Are you saying the other side, they go to Egypt?
DANNY AYALON: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. And Egypt will have to play ball.
While Israel is ethnically cleansing Palestinians and killing large numbers of civilians, Western governments have showed unflinching support.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen both traveled to Tel Aviv to symbolically back the far-right Netanyahu government.
The Financial Times reported that some EU officials are concerned “that the European Commission president could look as if she is endorsing military actions that will cause mass civilian casualties — and that will swiftly be labelled as war crimes”.
An unnamed EU diplomat told the Times, “We may be about to see massive ethnic cleansing” – a clear indication that Western capitals know exactly what Israel is doing.
“Our fear is that we’ll pay a heavy price in the global south because of this conflict”, an anonymous EU official confessed to the newspaper.
The vast majority of countries in the Global South support the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israeli colonialism. A rare exception is the far-right government in India, whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents a vehemently anti-Muslim Hindu-nationalist party, the BJP, which sees Israel’s religious ethnostate as an inspiration and potential model for its own plans for a so-called “Hindu rashtra”.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has suggested that Israel plans to further escalate its extreme violence. He told soldiers near the border of Gaza that the “next stage is coming”.
The Israeli military has also been attacking neighbors Lebanon and Syria.
Human Rights Watch confirmed that Israel used white phosphorous in strikes on both Gaza and Lebanon. The human rights organization made it clear that this “puts civilians at risk of serious and long-term injuries” and “violates the international humanitarian law prohibition on putting civilians at unnecessary risk”.
Israel has likewise bombed Syria multiple times, even targeting the international airport in Aleppo.
For the roughly 2.3 million Palestinians trapped in the besieged Gaza strip, conditions are virtually unlivable.
Israel has cut off Gaza’s access to electricity, water, food, and fuel. The Associated Press reported, “When water does trickle from pipes, the meager flow lasts no more than 30 minutes each day and is so contaminated with sewage and seawater that it’s undrinkable, residents said”.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) cautioned, “Mass casualties are unlike anything seen in past years”.
“The medical system is on its knees. As Gaza loses power, hospitals lose power. Water cannot be pumped. Sewage systems will likely flood. People have nowhere else to go”, the humanitarian organization stated.
Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the founder and editor of Geopolitical Economy Report, and is based in China.