Is this Israel's plan for Gaza population? 10-page leaked document reveals alleged intent amid war with Hamas
Controversial leaked document alleges Israel's plan to relocate Gaza residents to Egypt's Sinai during the Israel-Hamas conflict, sparking criticism and concern from Palestinian and Egyptian governments.
Amid the raging war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, a supposedly leaked document enlisting the country's plan of action in the conflict has sparked a great deal of controversy even as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carry on with their ground assault to eliminate the Palestinian terrorist organisation. The highly contentious 10-page paper was allegedly drafted by the Israel's Ministry of Intelligence a week after the Hamas attack on October 7, according to a post by Wikileaks on X. According to the document, one of the fundamental plans of Israel under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu was to relocate the Gaza population to Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.
"A document on behalf of the Ministry of Intelligence, the full content of which is published here for the first time, recommends the forced transfer of the population of the Gaza Strip to Sinai permanently, and calls for the international community to be harnessed for the move. The document also suggests promoting a dedicated campaign for the residents of Gaza that will 'motivate them to agree to the plan'," said Mekomit, a Hebrew website, quoting the allegedly leaked document.
The alleged ten-page document is dated October 13, and features the logo of the Ministry of Intelligence headed by Minister Gila Gamliel of the Likud. An official at the Ministry of Intelligence confirmed to "Local Talk" that this is an authentic document, which was distributed to the security system on behalf of the Ministry's Policy Division, and "was not supposed to reach the media."
We examine a few specifics from the purported document:
Sending Palestinians to Egypt
As per the purported document, the plan called for relocating Gaza-based Palestinians to the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. According to the plan, Israel would instruct the inhabitants of northern Gaza to relocate to southern Gaza before launching a ground offensive, which is exactly what Netanyahu did. The operation would then proceed from northern Gaza to southern Gaza. Egypt's Rafah crossing, near southern Gaza, would be kept empty during the military operation to allow people to exit. Tent settlements and cities in northern Sinai would be established to accommodate Palestinians.
As per the document, Israel aims to 'create a sterile zone of several kilometers inside Egypt and not allow the population to return to activity or residence near the Israeli border'.
Transfer plan for civilians in Gaza
The alleged document stated that the transfer plan is divided into several phases: in the first phase, the population in Gaza would be "vacated to the south", while the Israel Air Force strikes will focus on the northern part of the Strip. In the second phase, ground entry into Gaza would begin, which will lead to the occupation of the entire strip, from north to south, and the "cleansing of the underground bunkers from Hamas fighters."
As per the purported document, as Israel gains control of the Gaza Strip, citizens will be moved to Egyptian territory and would not be allowed to return to it permanently. "It is important to leave the traffic lanes towards the south usable, to allow the evacuation of the civilian population towards Rafah," the alleged document states. It is important to note that the Rafah crossing border was opened on Wednesday for limited evacuation. According to reports, 400 foreigners and 81 severely wounded people were allowed to enter Egypt.
Motivate Gazans to agree to Israel's plan
"The messages should revolve around the loss of the land, that is, to make it clear that there is no longer any hope of returning to the territories that Israel will occupy in the near future, whether it is true or not. The image should be "Allah made sure that you lost this land because of the leadership of Hamas - there is no choice but to move to another place with the help of Your Muslim brothers," the alleged document reads.
In addition, the alleged document noted that the government must lead a public campaign that will promote the transfer program in the Western world "in a way that does not incite and blacken Israel", in which the deportation of the population from Gaza will be presented as a humanitarianly necessary move and will receive the support of the world because it will lead to "fewer casualties among the civilian population compared to the expected number of casualties and the oculus remains."
Harness US to moving Gazans to Egypt
Furthermore, the alleged document stated Israel must leverage the support of the United States to exert pressure on Egypt for accommodating the residents of Gaza. It also proposed engaging other European nations, notably Greece, Spain, and Canada, to aid in accepting and resettling the evacuated refugees from Gaza. The Ministry of Intelligence clarified that the document was not disseminated through the ministry to US officials but was exclusively shared within the Israeli government and security agencies.
The document is a concept paper and a fictional exercise, according to Netanyahu's office. However, the governments of Egypt and Palestine have sharply attacked this document since it surfaced. Egypt believes that Israel intends to turn Gaza's problems into its own. There will be problems when such a big number of displaced people enter Egypt.
The likelihood of realising such a plan, considered tantamount to the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, is extremely low for several reasons. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi recently expressed strong opposition to opening the Rafah crossing to absorb a civilian population from Gaza. He emphasised that relocating Palestinians from Gaza to Sinai would jeopardise the peace between Israel and Egypt. Al-Sisi had proposed expanding the territory of the Gaza Strip to Sinai and establishing an independent Palestinian state there several years ago, an idea that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas outright rejected. Similar proposals in the same vein were previously presented by other Israeli officials but never advanced into substantive discussions.
In relation to this situation, the alleged document stated that Egypt will have an "obligation under international law to allow the passage of population", and that the United States can contribute to the move by exerting "pressure on Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to contribute to the initiative either in resources or in accepting displaced persons".
In the leaked document, it is proposed to run a dedicated public campaign that will be addressed to the Arab world, to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia, "in which the message of aid to the Palestinian brothers and their rehabilitation is focused even at the cost of a tone that scolds or offends Israel."
The alleged document further noted that "massive migration" of the population from combat zones is a "natural and necessary result" that also happened in Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine and that only the deportation of the population will be "an appropriate response that will allow the creation of a significant deterrent in the entire region."
The document presented two other alternatives regarding the citizens of Gaza. The first is to import the rule of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, and the second is to grow another local Arab rule as an alternative to Hamas. Both alternatives, it is claimed, are not desirable from a strategic and security point of view for the State of Israel, and will not provide a sufficiently deterrent message, especially to Hezbollah in Lebanon, as a response to the massacre by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The drafters of the document claimed that the introduction of the Palestinian Authority into Gaza is the "most dangerous alternative" of the three, because it could "lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state."
"It is not possible that the result of this attack ( the massacre by Hamas on October 7, 11), will be an unprecedented victory for the Palestinian national movement and paving the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state," the document reads.
The document claims that a model of Israeli military rule and PA civilian rule, as exists in the West Bank, is expected to fail in Gaza. "There is no way to maintain an effective military occupation in Gaza only on the basis of a military presence and without settlement. In a short time there will be an internal Israeli and international demand for withdrawal," it reads.
The drafters of the document added that in such a situation the State of Israel "will be considered a colonialist power with an occupying army... similar to the situation of Yosh today, only worse".
The document suggests that the formation of a local Arab leadership to replace Hamas is not preferable. This is due to the absence of local opposition movements to Hamas, and there is concern that a new leadership might be even more radical in its approach. "The likely scenario is not a change in ideological perception, but the establishment of new, perhaps even more extreme, Islamist movements," it stated in relation to this alternative.
Finally, the leaked document claimed that if the population of Gaza remains in the Strip there will be "many Arab deaths" during the expected occupation of Gaza, and this will damage Israel's international image even more than the deportation of the population. For all these reasons, the recommendation of the Ministry of Intelligence, as per the document, is to promote the transfer of all citizens from Gaza to Sinai permanently.