UN ‘very disturbed’ by Israeli calls for Gazans’ emigration
GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP)— UN human rights chief Volker Turk said on Thursday he was “very disturbed” after comments by senior Israeli officials calling for Palestinians to leave Gaza.
Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Monday called for promoting “a solution to encourage the emigration of Gaza’s residents” and the re-establishment of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.
His comments came the day after far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also called for the return of settlers to Gaza, adding that Israel should “encourage” the territory’s approximately 2.4 million Palestinians to leave.
“Very disturbed by high-level Israeli officials’ statements on plans to transfer civilians from Gaza to third countries,” Turk wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
He added that “international law prohibits forcible transfer of protected persons within or deportation from occupied territory.”
The Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not officially suggested plans to evict Gazans or to send Jewish settlers back to the territory since the war broke out in October.
The fighting erupted after Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing around 1,140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
In response, Israel vowed to destroy the group, launching bombardment and a ground invasion that has reduced swathes of Gaza to rubble and claimed at least 22,313 lives, according to the territory’s health ministry.
The vast majority of Gaza’s residents have been forced out of their homes by nearly three months of fighting between Hamas militants and Israel.