Amichai Eliyahu’s statement shows the “extremism and brutality” of West Jerusalem, the Saudi Foreign Ministry has said Palestinians look for survivors of the Israeli bombardment in the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza, November 5, 2023 © AP / Hatem Moussa
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Arab states have all denounced Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu for suggesting that his country drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza. Eliyahu was suspended, but not fired, for his remarks.
Speaking to Radio Kol Berama on Sunday, Eliyahu said that using nuclear weapons against the Palestinian enclave “is one of the possibilities,” after his interviewer said that this would “flatten” the area and “eliminate everybody there.” Eliyahu, a member of the far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, was indefinitely suspended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Sunday.
The minister’s comments “show to what extent extremism and brutality have penetrated the Israeli government,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The fact that Eliyahu was not outright fired, the ministry continued, “reflects the Israeli government’s disregard for all values of humanity, morality, religion and law.”
“These statements constitute a violation of international law, as well as incitement to commit grave violations of International Humanitarian Law, such as war crimes, and raise grave concerns of an intent to commit genocide,” the UAE said. Jordan released a similar statement describing Eliyahu’s comments as a “call for genocide and a hate crime that cannot be ignored,” while the Qatari Foreign Ministry said that it “strongly condemns the threat made by an Israeli minister to strike Gaza with a nuclear bomb and considers it a serious incitement to a war crime.”
Eliyahu’s remarks revealed that “Israel possesses nuclear weapons, which is an open secret,” Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit declared. The comments also “confirm the truth of the racist view Israelis hold against Palestinians,” he added. “This is the true face of the occupation government.”
Despite Eliyahu defending his comments as “metaphorical,” he faced heavy criticism within Israel. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant condemned his “baseless and irresponsible words,” while opposition leader Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to fire the minister for causing “harm to the families of the hostages, Israeli society, and our international standing.”
The Israeli military has dropped more than 25,000 tons of explosives on Gaza since October 7, equivalent in power to two of the nuclear bombs used on Hiroshima, the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor NGO said in a press release on Thursday. More than 10,000 people have been killed and 25,000 injured in the strip as a result of the Israeli bombardment and ground offensive, according to the latest figures from the Gaza Health Ministry.
The Israeli campaign in Gaza was launched after a surprise attack by Hamas militants on October 7 left around 1,400 people in Israel dead and saw around 240 taken to Gaza as hostages.