Nuclear bomb an option in Gaza, Israeli Minister Amihai Eliyahu suggests; PM Netanyahu has this to say

Amihai Eliyahu, a far-right politician in the Israeli coalition government, faced backlash for suggesting that dropping an atomic bomb in Gaza was an option. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the remarks, stating they were not based on reality.

Livemint
Updated5 Nov 2023
Palestinians look for survivors of the Israeli bombardment in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians look for survivors of the Israeli bombardment in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)(AP)

Amihai Eliyahu, a far-right politician part of the Israeli coalition government, drew flak as he suggested on November 4 that dropping atomic bomb in Gaza was “an option” for the armed forces of his country.

Eliyahu's remarks drew a stern reaction from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said it was “not based on reality”.

Eliyahu, who heads the country's heritage ministry, had made the controversial remarks while speaking to a local radio. “There are no non-combatants in Gaza,” he said during the interview, adding that providing humanitarian aid to the besieged region would be a “failure”.

“We wouldn’t hand the Nazis humanitarian aid… there is no such thing as uninvolved civilians in Gaza,” the Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.

Also Read: Israel acknowledges ambulance attack in Gaza, sparks global protests amid ceasefire calls

On being asked whether the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) would consider using the atomic weapon as – in his view – there were “no non-combatants” in the region, the minister replied that it was "one of the possibilities”, reports said.

A statement issued by Netanyahu's office disassociated the government from the minister's remarks. “Minister Amihai Eliyahu's statements are not based in reality. Israel and the IDF are operating in accordance with the highest standards of international law to avoid harming innocents. We will continue to do so until our victory,” it quoted Netanyahu as saying.

The prime minister's office, in another statement issued on November 5, said Eliyahu has been suspended from government meetings till further notice.

Track live updates on the Israel-Hamas war

The controversial minister is not part of the security cabinet, and was not involved in any manner in the wartime decision-making, Israeli media reports said.

Notably, Eliyahu belongs to the political party of Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right leader who had drawn global headlines earlier this year for leading incursions at the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem.

After his statements over the use of atomic bomb drew condemnation, Eliyahu said his remarks were “metaphorical”.

“It is clear to all sensible people that the statement about the atom is metaphorical. However, a strong and disproportionate response to terrorism is definitely required, which will clarify to the Nazis and their supporters that terrorism is not worthwhile. This is the only formula that democratic states can use to deal with terrorism. At the same time, it is clear that the State of Israel is committed to doing everything possible to return the hostages safe and sound,” he said on social media platform X.

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