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Israel's top defense official declares his opposition to 'Israeli military governance' in Gaza.

Gallant urges PM Netanyahu to present his after-war strategies, stating firmly, "I won't accept Israeli military authority in Gaza."

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 18,...
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 18, 2023.

Israel's top defense official declares his opposition to 'Israeli military governance' in Gaza.

"The 'day after Hamas' will only be possible with Palestinian entities taking over Gaza, along with the support of international players, creating a government to replace Hamas," said Gallant during a news conference at Israel's military headquarters on Wednesday.

"I call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a decision and declare that Israel will not take control of Gaza's civilian operations, won't set up military governance in the area, and that an alternative governing body to Hamas in Gaza must be established straight away," he added.

Gallant's statements come at a time when concerns about Israel's long-term strategy in Gaza are growing, both within and outside the country, after the Israeli military sent soldiers back into areas of northern Gaza that they had previously withdrawn from to tackle Hamas militants who had reappeared during a power vacuum.

Israeli military officials have expressed their concerns privately that the absence of a strategy for post-war administration in Gaza could result in this situation continuing throughout the territory. High-ranking US officials are also expressing their concerns publicly, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning on Wednesday that Israel needs to concentrate on the future and avoid "anarchy and a vacuum that's likely to be filled with chaos."

Gallant has previously stated his opposition to Israeli control in post-war Gaza, but his remarks on Wednesday were his most direct commentary on the issue as he highlighted the impact of a long-term Israeli military presence in Gaza and called out Netanyahu directly.

"I won't accept Israeli military control in Gaza. Israel has to stay away from governing Gaza," he said, warning of the significant human and financial toll of a prolonged Israeli military presence in Palestinian territory.

Netanyahu later addressed Gallant's remarks, stating in a video message on social media that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority was an acceptable option for governing Gaza.

"I'm not ready to exchange Hamastan for Fatahtan," he said, referring to the Palestinian political party that dominates the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu also indicated that a comprehensive defeat of Hamas was a condition for the emergence of a new civilian governing body in Gaza. "As long as Hamas remains in place, no other entity will be permitted to administer Gaza's civilian affairs, especially not the Palestinian Authority," he said.

Gallant's comments sparked a political debate in Israel, with several right-wing lawmakers criticizing him and some even urging Netanyahu to remove him from his post. However, War Cabinet member Minister Benny Gantz has backed Gallant's position, saying, "He's speaking the truth."

The confrontation between Gallant and Netanyahu follows repeated calls from the US for Israel to propose a clear plan for post-war Gaza.

"We don't support and will not support Israeli occupation. We, of course, also can't accept Hamas governance in Gaza," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told journalists at a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday. "We also can't have anarchy and a vacuum that's likely to be filled by chaos."

"There needs to be a clear and explicit plan, and we're looking to Israel to present its concepts," said Blinken.

Gazans search for loved ones buried deep in rubble after Israeli airstrikes. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports on families in Nuseirat, Gaza, as they search for loved ones buried beneath rubble after Israeli airstrikes.
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