Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended far-right Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu on Sunday after he suggested dropping an atomic bomb on Gaza was a possible way to deal with the threat from Hamas.
Asked in a radio interview Sunday whether Israel should drop an atomic bomb on Gaza, Eliyahu replied that that was an option, The Jerusalem Post reported, noting that the comment came in a larger discussion about humanitarian aid.
“We wouldn’t have given the Nazis humanitarian aid,” he said, according to the reporting. “There’s no such thing as innocents in Gaza.”
Netanyahu sharply rebuked the comment, saying they were “not based in reality” and stressing Israel’s commitment to abide by international law and avoid unnecessary deaths.
“Minister Amihai Eliyahu’s statements are not based in reality,” Netanyahu said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, before suspending Eliyahu from cabinet meetings.
“Israel and the [Israel Defense Forces] are operating in accordance with the highest standards of international law to avoid harming innocents. We will continue to do so until our victory,” Netanyahu added.
The remarks were also met by widespread condemnation among Israeli government officials — both from members in the right-wing governing coalition and from members of the opposition.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said he “condemns the baseless and irresponsible words of Minister Amichai Eliyahu,” adding, “It’s good that these are not the people in charge of Israel’s security.”
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to fire Eliyahu in a Sunday morning statement on X, calling the remarks “shocking and crazy” and saying his extremist position “endangers” Israeli society and the way its viewed across the world.
“A shocking and crazy statement by an irresponsible minister. He harmed the families of the abductees, harmed Israeli society and harmed our international standing,” Lapid said.
“The presence of the extremists in the government endangers us and the success of the war goals — defeating Hamas and the return of the kidnapped. Netanyahu must fire him this morning,” he added.
The comments come as Israel faces growing resistance to its barrage of bombings in Gaza. Amid calls for a cease-fire, Netanyahu has said that the bombing won’t stop until the roughly 240 hostages that Hamas took on Oct. 7 are returned.
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