A lawmaker in Israel’s ruling Likud party has refused to disavow incendiary statements he made about burning Gaza to the ground in November. Instead, he is doubling down on the rhetoric, calling once again for the destruction of Gaza a day ahead of the hearing by the International Court of Justice in the Hague accusing Israel of genocide.
The controversial statements were made by Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi, who was asked if he regretted them in a recent interview with Kol BaRama radio. A defiant Vaturi refused to retract the statement, saying: “Hamas came and burned us, our children, in the Gaza border.”
He also defended Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, where he claims there are no innocent people.
“We’ve evacuated everyone, we managed to do an orderly evacuation of 1,900,000, and 100,000 remained. I don’t think there are any innocent people there now, not now, and not when I said these things.”
He went on to say that he does not pity those in Gaza, claiming that a disabled person with crutches “robbed, kidnapped and beat Jews.” He called for eliminating everyone who remains in the enclave.
“If there is an innocent person there, we will know about them. Whoever stays there should be eliminated, period. I don’t even have a doubt. We are grateful that we have the privilege of being prosecuted in The Hague for statements while Hamas is murdering children and women, and we are only looking to defend ourselves as a nation,” he said.
Numerous Israeli lawmakers have called for genocide in Gaza
Vaturi isn’t the only Israeli lawmaker who has called for genocide in Gaza. In the days after Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on Israel, lawyer and Likud MP Revital Gotliv called for the Israeli Defense Forces to use “Doomsday weapons” in Gaza, which is widely interpreted to mean launching nuclear weapons on the Strip.
Gotliv wrote on X: “I urge you to do everything and use Doomsday weapons fearlessly against our enemies.” She called on Israel to use “everything in its arsenal” against them.
Other Israeli lawmakers have also mentioned the use of nuclear weapons in Gaza. Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu set off a firestorm when he said that dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza was an option and that there was no need to give Gazans humanitarian aid because “there is no such thing as uninvolved civilians in Gaza.”
He went on to say that the Gaza Strip should be taken over and Israeli settlements there should be rebuilt. He added that anyone who waves a Hamas or Palestinian flag “shouldn’t continue to live on the face of the earth.”
His comments were quickly condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who suspended him indefinitely from cabinet meetings.
A former public diplomacy minister, Galit Distel Atbaryan, said that Gaza should be “erased from the face of the Earth” and that it should be “wiped out” by the IDF. Atbaryan also posted on Facebook that Israelis should expel Gaza’s “monsters” into Egypt by force or “let them die.”
MK Yitzhak Kroizer of Israel’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party said that the Gaza Strip should be razed and everyone there should be sentenced to death.
On Sunday, Netanyahu warned his cabinet ministers to choose their words carefully when discussing the war in light of recent comments by ministers that have harmed Israel’s international reputation.
He cautioned: “Every word has meaning when it comes to diplomacy. If you don’t know — don’t speak. We must be sensitive.”
According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, more than 23,000 people have been killed in Gaza so far in the fighting.