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Israel says no intention to deport Palestinians from Gaza

1 min

Israel has no plans to deport Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Friday, adding that it would coordinate its plans for hundreds of thousands of refugees in the city of Rafah with neighbouring Egypt.

 Israel Katz © Mena Today 

Israel has no plans to deport Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Friday, adding that it would coordinate its plans for hundreds of thousands of refugees in the city of Rafah with neighbouring Egypt.

Deep-seated concern that Palestinians could be forced from the Gaza Strip has loomed large for both the Palestinians and their Arab neighbours ever since Israel launched its assault in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

Israel is set to attack Rafah, and sources have said contingency plans are being made in Egypt to accommodate Palestinians if the situation were to become critical.

Katz said Israel had no alternative but to enter Rafah as fighters from Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas were using the city as cover.

"We have no intention to deport any Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip," Katz said, adding that Israel did not want to rule Gaza after it ends its war against the Palestinian military group Hamas that has been governing the territory.

"Israel does not want to hurt any Palestinian civilians, so we move them to safe zones while the Hamas are trying to prevent it. We have no intention to rule the civilian life in Gaza after the war. Our goal is to ensure that Gaza will be dematerialised," he said.

When asked where the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the city would go, Katz suggested that once Gaza's second city Khan Younis had been cleared of Hamas fighters, they could return there or to the West of the enclave.

Western officials and aid agencies have warned that refugees being forced into Egypt would be a catastrophe. Katz appeared to downplay that option and said Israel was discussing how to evacuate refugees with the United States but would also coordinate with Egypt.

"We will deal (with) Rafah after we speak with Egypt about it. We'll coordinate it, we have a peace accord with them and we will find a place which will not harm the Egyptians," Katz said. "We will coordinate everything and not harm their interests."

Reporting by John Irish

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