Right-wing Israeli leaders advocate using disease and nuclear bombs against Palestinians
Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza pour into a hospital near Rafah on Wedensday, Dec. 6, 2023. There are no safe places in Gaza for Palestinians to hide from the Israeli military. Now, a top retired general says that disease should also be allowed to 'go wild' in Gaza in order to eliminate Palestinians faster. | Fatima Shbair / AP

TEL AVIV—Deadly health epidemics deployed as a weapon against Palestinians. Nuclear bombs dropped on Gaza. These are just two of the latest proposals being put forward by influential figures inside and outside the Israeli government as ways to accelerate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war.

Retired Israel Defense Forces General Giora Eiland declared that Israel should speed up the destruction of Gaza by letting epidemics “go wild” in the besieged territory. Meanwhile, Israeli Minister of Heritage Amihai Eliyahu said that bombing Gaza with a nuclear weapon was “one of the possibilities” the government should consider.

It seems there is a competition among some far-right Israeli figures over who can propose the most reckless and inhumane tactics for the IDF’s war on Gaza.

Fifteen of Israel’s top public health professionals and current and past deans of the country’s schools of public health united to denounce the statement made by Eiland.

Israeli Gen. Giora Eiland, seen here at a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv in 2010, remains an influential figure in the Israeli political establishment even after his official retirement. He is encouraging the Israeli state to let epidemics ‘go wild’ in Gaza to eliminate Palestinians faster. | Ariel Schalit / AP

He is the former head of the Israeli National Security Council and former senior associate at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), a Tel Aviv University think tank. He suggested pairing a public health attack with the military offensive in an opinion article published in the Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper on Nov. 19.

The retired general wrote that allowing disease to spread unchecked in Gaza without any intervention by health professionals would bring about a faster victory over Hamas. The Palestinian population there is not divided into two, “terrorists and innocent civilians who are suffering at no fault of their own,” he argued.

“Gaza is very much like Nazi Germany and underwent a similar process, so it’s correct for Israel to carry out the war accordingly. Gaza women are the mothers, sisters, and spouses of Hamas murderers…. Epidemics in the South [of Gaza] will bring victory closer and decrease casualties among IDF soldiers.”

A coalition of public health academics and physicians emerged to strongly oppose the general’s views. In an open statement published this week, they declared:

“We firmly assert our commitment to preserving the health of all civilian populations, even in time of conflict. This moral stance is both our conviction and our strength…. General Eiland’s statements are strategically, medically, and morally wrong and do not reflect the sentiments of the majority of Israeli people.”

The group said that Eiland’s statement places him in the “destructive minority among our people who are harmful to us.” They slammed Eiland and others encouraging such cruelty, saying they “endanger Jews throughout the world” and reinforce “the worst [anti-]Jewish stereotypes, as poisoners of wells and so on.”

The health professionals said that they will always remain “devoted to preventing disease and preserving health everywhere and for all peoples.”

They demanded that Eiland retract his statement, but more importantly, they said that all newspaper editors, media leaders, and responsible Israeli public officials must publicly reject Eiland and the strategy he advocated in Gaza.

“In the end, two peoples share this land, as well as its pathogens, and will continue to do so. Both will have to strive for a safe and healthy future for our children and future generations,” they concluded.

As for the possibility of nuking Gaza, Eliyahu raised the possibility in a radio interview in November. Though the world has long known Israel possesses nuclear weapons, the government has long remained silent on the issue.

Eliyahu’s remarks essentially confirmed their existence, a confession which earned him a suspension from cabinet from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Eliyahu’s statements are not based in reality,” Netanyahu said on X (formerly Twitter). It was the revelation that Israel possesses a nuclear arsenal, not the advocacy of its use against Palestinians, which upset the prime minister, apparently.

In response to Eliyahu’s proposal, the head of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) and former Knesset Member Issam Makhoul called on the international community and relevant international organizations to remove the threat of Israeli nuclear weapons from the Palestinian people and the peoples in the region and oblige Israel to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

“The call of the fascist minister in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, Amihai Eliyahu, to drop a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip, in the light of the war of extermination and expulsion waged by Israel, is a call that fits integrally with the genocidal rhetoric launched by the Israeli government and its security establishment towards the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian occupied territories,” Makhoul said.

“The call to drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza is only part of the bloody racist and vengeful mood prevailing in Israel,” he continued.

“The call to commit a nuclear crime against a defenseless people, issued by a minister in the government of an aggressive nuclear state that has been accumulating a huge nuclear arsenal for decades, must urgently be a source of real concern for the entire civilized world,” Makhoul said.

Makhoul concluded his statement saying: “Now it has become clearer than ever, that under the fascist government in Israel, nobody in our world can continue turning a blind eye to what happens around nuclear weapons in Israel. This danger is not and cannot be an internal Israeli issue alone. It is a global responsibility.”

After translation, this article was edited for further clarity.

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Zo HaDerekh
Zo HaDerekh

Zo HaDerekh (This Is The Way) is the Communist Party of Israel's Hebrew-language newspaper.