Israeli Official Suggests Gaza Be ‘Flattened Completely, Just Like Auschwitz Today’
A local Israeli council head suggested in a radio interview that Gaza should be “flattened completely, just like Auschwitz today,” the latest Israeli official to publicly call for the annihilation of the besieged Palestinian enclave.
David Azoulai, a political leader for the northern Israeli town of Metula, made the remark Sunday in an interview with Tel Aviv’s Radio 103FM. He went further, suggesting that Palestinians in Gaza be forcibly sent to refugee camps in Lebanon. Metula sits near the Israel-Lebanon border.
What happened on Oct. 7 is a “kind of second Holocaust,” Azoulai said, according to a translation of the interview by Haaretz. The politician said that while he is “not a far-right person,” he believes Palestinians in Gaza should be ordered to “go to the beaches,” where Israeli ships will “load them up, the civilians … the terrorists they have there, and place them on Lebanon’s shores where there are enough refugee camps.”
On Oct. 7, Hamas militants launched a deadly assault on Israel that killed approximately 1,200 people. Hundreds more were taken hostage, some of whom have since been released by Hamas. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, Israel’s ongoing retaliation effort has displaced 1.9 million Gazans, killed more than 19,400 Palestinians, and wounded more than 52,200. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, which was declared a safe zone by Israel in early December, have reported ongoing attacks and displacement from there, too.
When asked what Israel should do with the Gaza Strip in the event that all the territory’s residents be forcibly driven out, Azoulai responded that it should be “left empty, just like Auschwitz. A museum, so the whole world will learn what the state of Israel can do.”
Israel, Azoulai continued, should then turn Gaza into a buffer zone “from the sea to the border fence, completely empty, so that everyone remembers what was once there.”
In the 1940s, Nazis established the Auschwitz camp in Poland. Auschwitz initially served as a concentration camp for Jewish and Polish people before becoming the Third Reich’s main death camp. Nazis murdered more than a million people, most of whom were Jews, at the camp before it was liberated in January 1945.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was officially established in 1947, in large part thanks to efforts by the camp’s former prisoners. The museum includes post-camp structures like the ruins of gas chambers and crematoriums, as well as camp fencing and a railway camp.
“The site is a key place of memory for the whole of humankind for the Holocaust, racist policies and barbarism,” UNESCO, who included the camp on its World Heritage List, said. “It is a place of our collective memory of this dark chapter in the history of humanity, of transmission to younger generations and a sign of warning of the many threats and tragic consequences of extreme ideologies and denial of human dignity.”
The museum released a statement with strong words for Azoulai, saying Israeli authorities should react to his “shameful abuse, as terrorism as can never be a response to terrorism.”
“Memory of victims of Auschwitz has, at times, been violated and instrumentalized in various extreme statements,” the museum said. “David Azoulai appears to wish to use the symbol of the largest cemetery in the world as some sort of a sick, hateful pseudo-artistic, symbolic expression.”
“Calling for acts that seem to transgress any civil, wartime, moral, and human laws, that may sound as a call for murder of the scale akin to Auschwitz, puts the whole honest world face-to-face with a madness that must be confronted and firmly rejected,” the statement continued.
Azoulai joins multiple other Israeli officials who have publicly called for violence against Palestinian civilians or otherwise dehumanized them. Last month, Israeli security cabinet minister Avi Dichter said that Israel is “rolling out the Gaza Nakba” when he was shown images of north Gaza’s residents evacuating en masse to the south, as ordered by Israeli forces. The Nakba refers to the 1948 mass displacement of Palestinians from their land.
Days earlier, Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said that dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza is “an option” because “there are no non-combatants in Gaza.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the mass killing of Palestinian civilians “collateral damage” of his military offensive in Gaza.
In October, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the military is “fighting human animals,” and called for denying Palestinians food, electricity, water and fuel. The Israeli government followed through on those remarks, leaving a substantial portion of Palestinians access to basic needs, outside a trickle of aid being allowed in.