Israel’s military has drafted plans to establish permanent outposts in Gaza, an Israeli officer has told Middle East Eye.
News of the plans comes despite international pressure on Israel to accept a two-state solution with the Palestinians and withdraw its army from the coastal enclave.
Earlier this month, the Israeli army announced that it would move into a “low intensity” phase of its war with the Palestinian group Hamas, in which heavy bombardments of Gaza would be replaced by targeted special operations.
However, the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the army was preparing to set up permanent military stations in strategic locations inside Gaza, which would allow it to maintain control and surveillance over the territory.
The officer said that the plan was part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vision to “annex Gaza de facto”, and that it had the approval of the defense minister and the chief of staff.
The officer said that the plan was based on the assumption that Hamas would not be defeated or disarmed, and that the war would continue indefinitely.
“The idea is to create a new reality on the ground, where we can operate freely and effectively, without being constrained by international law or public opinion,” the officer said.
The officer said that the plan was inspired by the model of the West Bank, where Israel has built hundreds of settlements and military bases, and where it exercises full or partial control over more than 60% of the land.
The officer said that the plan would require the construction of a security fence around Gaza, similar to the one that separates Israel from the West Bank, and the creation of buffer zones and checkpoints inside Gaza, where the movement of people and goods would be restricted and monitored.
The officer said that the plan would also entail the demolition of thousands of homes and buildings in Gaza, especially in the border areas, where most of the tunnels and rocket launchers used by Hamas are located.
The officer said that the plan would face many challenges and risks, such as the resistance and retaliation of Hamas and other armed groups, the opposition and condemnation of the international community, and the possible escalation and expansion of the conflict to other fronts, such as Lebanon and Syria.
The officer said that the plan was not yet finalized or approved by the cabinet, and that it was subject to change depending on the developments and circumstances of the war.
The officer said that the plan was not intended to replace or undermine the two-state solution, but rather to create the conditions and the leverage for future negotiations with the Palestinians.
The officer said that the plan was also aimed at sending a message to the US and the EU, who have been pressuring Israel to end the war and to resume the peace talks, that Israel would not compromise on its security and sovereignty, and that it would not accept any imposed or unilateral solution.
The officer said that the plan was also a response to the growing influence and involvement of Iran and Turkey in the region, who have been supporting Hamas and other Islamist groups, and who have been challenging Israel’s interests and position.
The officer said that the plan was also a reflection of the changing political and social landscape in Israel, where the right-wing and nationalist parties have gained more power and popularity, and where the public opinion has become more supportive and tolerant of the war and its consequences.
The officer said that the plan was also a manifestation of the personal and political ambitions of Netanyahu, who has been in power since 2009 and who is facing corruption charges and a possible trial.
The officer said that the plan was also a testament to the failure and frustration of the previous attempts and efforts to end the conflict and to achieve peace and stability in the region.