Israel cannot leave a vacuum in Gaza: President Isaac Herzog

"If we pull back, then who will take over? We can't leave a vacuum. We have to think about what will be the mechanism; there are many ideas that are thrown in the air," Israeli President Isaac Herzog said.

November 16, 2023 12:05 pm | Updated 06:21 pm IST

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog. File

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog. File | Photo Credit: AP

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Israel cannot leave a vacuum in Gaza and would have to maintain a strong force there for the near future to prevent Hamas from re-emerging in the Palestinian enclave, the Financial Times (FT) reported on November 16.

"If we pull back, then who will take over? We can't leave a vacuum. We have to think about what will be the mechanism; there are many ideas that are thrown in the air," Mr. Herzog said in an interview with the FT. "But no one will want to turn this place, Gaza, into a terror base again", he added.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC News that Israel will "for an indefinite period" have security responsibility of the enclave after the war but the United States pushed back saying Palestinians should govern Gaza once Israel ends its war against Hamas.

Mr. Herzog told FT that Israel's government was discussing many ideas about how Gaza would be run once the war between Israel and Hamas ends and added that he assumed that the United States and "our neighbours in the region" would have some involvement in the post-conflict order.

U.S. President Joe Biden on November 15 said that he had made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a two-state solution was the only answer to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict and that occupying Gaza would be "a big mistake."

Israel began its campaign against the Islamist group that rules Gaza after militants rampaged through southern Israel on October 7. Israel says 1,200 people were killed and some 240 people taken hostage in the deadliest day of its 75-year-old history.

Israel has put Gaza's population of 2.3 million under siege and carried out an aerial bombardment. Gaza health officials, considered reliable by the United Nations, say about 11,500 Palestinians are confirmed killed, around 40% of them children, and more are buried under the rubble.

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