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Israel aims for Hamas-free ‘bubbles’ in postwar Gaza – FT

The pilot scheme for potential “humanitarian enclaves” will soon be launched in the strip’s northern neighborhoods, according to a report

Israel is preparing to test an experimental model for running postwar Gaza by creating a series of “bubbles” that are designed to be Hamas-free, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing sources.

People with knowledge of the plan told the outlet that the pilot scheme for potential “humanitarian enclaves” will soon be launched in the northern Gaza neighborhoods of Atatra, Beit Hanoun, and Beit Lahia.

Under the scheme, the Israeli military would transfer aid from the nearby Western Erez crossing to vetted local Palestinians, who would distribute it and gradually expand their responsibilities to take over civilian governance in the area. Israeli forces, at least for an initial phase, would ensure security, the article claimed.

If successful, Israel would then expand the “bubbles” southward to other parts of Gaza as a means to replace Hamas in governing the strip.

The “humanitarian bubbles” are reportedly only one tactical part of a much broader three-tier postwar plan suggested by the Israeli security establishment and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Under the full scheme, a wide international coalition including moderate Arab states would provide the overall diplomatic and financial “envelope” for postwar Gaza.

On the ground, “humanitarian bubbles” would then in effect be run by representatives from the international and Arab coalition, local Palestinian Authority officials, and private contractors and businesspeople.

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Several people familiar with the initiative said there were also plans to train up a local Palestinian force from inside Gaza to take over security in the “humanitarian bubbles.” 

However, a former senior Israeli official familiar with the planning told FT that they “already tried this in three different parts of central and north Gaza, including with local clans,” adding “they were all either beaten up or killed by Hamas.” 

According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior aides have been insisting that Arab governments will play a major role in any postwar arrangement, whether via the provision of diplomatic support, financing or even peacekeepers.

However, the sources said that “Arab states will not support reconstruction in Gaza or postwar plans unless Israel takes concrete steps towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.” 

The report pointed out that there was widespread skepticism over the viability of the Israeli plan, with one person with knowledge of it calling it a “fantasy” project.

July 02, 2024 at 01:55AM

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