Middle East

Israeli government ministers join rally calling for new settlements in Gaza and the West Bank

From Lauren Izso in Tel Aviv and CNN's Celine Alkhaldi in Abu Dhabi

Israeli government ministers and members of the Knesset joined a rally in Jerusalem on Sunday calling for the resettlement of Gaza by Israelis and an expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir told the crowd the only way to prevent attacks like the one perpetrated by Hamas on October 7 was for Israel to control the Palestinian territories.

“The role of brave leadership is to make brave decisions. It’s time to return home, to [former Jewish settlements in Gaza] Gush Katif and Northern Samaria, it’s time to encourage immigration and it’s time to win,” Ben Gvir said, using the Biblical name for the northern West Bank.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told the rally that Israel would not have security without further settlement construction, while communications minister Shlomo Karhi said God had given Gaza to the Jewish people and that there would never be a Palestinian state.

Hamas condemned the gathering in a statement on Monday and said the rally revealed the “hidden intentions” of the Israeli government to displace and ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country does not intend to maintain a permanent presence in Gaza again, but that it would maintain security control over the territory for an indefinite period of time.

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