ISRAEL – An Israeli government minister has been suspended for suggesting that dropping a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip was “one of the possibilities” in the Jewish state’s war against Hamas.
Heritage Minister, Amichai Eliyahu, was relieved of his duties and barred from cabinet meetings by Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, after making the outrageous claim during an interview on Radio Kol Berama, the Times of Israel reported.
New York Times reported that “Amichai Eliyahu’s words are detached from reality.
“Israel and the IDF are acting in accordance with the highest standards of international law in order to prevent harm to uninvolved people, and will continue to do that all the way to victory,” Netanyahu said in a statement posted on X.
Netanyahu made sure to note Eliyahu was not part of the emergency Israeli war cabinet that the PM created after Hamas militants launched a sneak attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.
The attack killed more than 1,400 Israelis near the Gaza border, nearly all of them civilians, while more than 200 people were taken hostage, leading to an ever-expanding retaliatory strike by Israel.
Eliyahu, a member of the far-right Otzma Yhudit, or Jewish Power party headed by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, made the troubling remarks earlier Sunday.
When asked if nuclear weapons were an option in Gaza, he replied, “This is one of the possibilities.”
Reminded of the Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza, Eliyahu responded, “I pray and hope for their return, but there is a price to be paid in war. Why are the lives of the abductees, whose release I really want, more important than the lives of the soldiers and the people who will be murdered later?” he added.
Eliyahu continued as for the fate of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, “They can go to Ireland or deserts. The monsters in Gaza should find a solution by themselves.”
He added of global calls for help for the Palestinian civilians, “We would not have given the Nazis humanitarian aid. There is no such thing as innocents in Gaza.”
After his suspension and the backlash over his comments, Eliyahu tried to back-pedal, claiming to reporters that “anyone reasonable would understand that the [nuclear weapons] comment was metaphorical.
“But we definitely need to respond powerfully and disproportionately to terrorism,” he added.
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