Ministers from Israel’s extreme right have been making increasingly controversial statements since the Hamas attacks on October 7 in a game of one-upmanship that has seen the right wing seek to extend its influence over Israel’s government and beyond.
In a radio interview on November 4, Israel's Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu said there were “no non-combatants” in Gaza before adding that providing medical aid to the enclave would amount to a “failure”. Dropping a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip would be “one of the options” for dealing with Hamas, he said.
Eliyahu is a member of the religious supremacist party Otzma Yehudit ("Jewish Power"), part of Israel’s ruling coalition.
Public outrage was swift and furious. “Amihai Eliyahu has got to go” ran an editorial headline in the Jerusalem Post on November 6. Liberal newspaper Haaretz went farther, with a call to “fire Israel’s far right” altogether.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was also quick to condemn the statement, saying Eliyahu was “divorced from reality” before suspending him from government meetings until further notice.
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