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Israel trials replacing Hamas with local leaders in Gaza City district

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The pilot program in the Zeitoun neighborhood will include ending incitement in the schools • IDF building security road bisecting the Strip.

Joshua Marks


Israel is preparing to carry out a pilot program that will see local authorities replace the Hamas terrorist group in governing the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Zeitoun, Channel 12 reported.

The military began a major aerial and ground offensive in the district on Monday night to clear it of terrorists ahead of the initiative. Led by the 162nd Division, Israeli forces killed and captured dozens of terrorists and confiscated a large amount of ammunition.

According to the report, Israel’s goal is for community leaders to manage the reception and distribution of humanitarian aid to establish an alternative to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip. Security forces will attempt to prevent the terrorist group from interfering with this process.

Gazan representatives recently met with Israeli officials to discuss the plan.

Notably, the plan does not involve a return to the north for the tens of thousands of Gazans who evacuated to a humanitarian zone in the southern Strip at the behest of the Israeli army. Instead, the pilot will be carried out with the residents who remained there.

Additionally, the pilot includes replacing the school curricula with textbooks that do not promote violent rejection of Israel and hatred towards Jews. Israeli leaders have repeatedly stressed the importance of deradicalizing the Gaza population, including moderating the educational system, after Hamas is defeated.

Boys take part in a summer camp organized by the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, in Khan Yunis, the southern Gaza Strip, June 22, 2023. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

Israeli War Cabinet member Benny Gantz on Wednesday evening referred to an international pilot in which moderate Arab countries would establish a civil administration to manage the Strip after the war ends, while Israel maintains full security control.

This civil administration would likely include “local Palestinians supported by some sort of regional committee or arrangement,” according to Gantz.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously said that he wants to see local Palestinian community leaders govern Gaza instead of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

“Oslo was the mother of all sins. The difference between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is only that Hamas wants to destroy us here and now, and the P.A. wants to do it in stages,” Netanyahu said in December.

Israel building road bisecting Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces is building an east-west road that will divide the Gaza Strip into two as part of plans for long-term security control of the coastal enclave, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing defense officials.

According to the newspaper, the gravel-paved road stretching some 5 miles from the Israeli border to the Mediterranean coastline south of Gaza City is intended to facilitate the movement of troops and logistical support.

Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, Jan. 27, 2024. Credit: IDF.

The Israeli military already controls the major north-south roads in the Strip and is also building a 1-kilometer security (buffer) zone on the Gaza side of the border.

Jerusalem expects intense fighting to continue in Gaza for another six to eight weeks, including in Rafah, before scaling back the war effort. The more targeted stage involving security raids similar to operations in Judea and Samaria could last for years.

The third phase of targeted raids is already taking place in northern Gaza. The first stage was the aerial bombardment of Gaza in the weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas-led massacre in the northwestern Negev, which was followed by the ground invasion, the second phase, which began on Oct. 27.

Israeli officials said that the east-west route will be used by the military until the Gaza operations are complete, however long it takes.

Furthermore, the route will prevent the over a million Gazans who fled south from returning to the north and will be manned by Israeli soldiers to prevent terrorist attacks.

Offensive continues in western Khan Yunis

Israeli forces killed more than 15 terrorists in the western part of the former Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis in the southern Strip over the past 24 hours, the IDF said on Thursday morning.

IDF troops during operational activities in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 21, 2024. Credit: IDF.

During the operational activities in the city, troops confiscated weapons, documents and other military equipment.

In the central Gaza Strip, troops located and destroyed a booby-trapped rocket-launching position “from which launches toward Israeli territory were most likely being planned,” according to the IDF.

Image: A Palestinian distributes food to displaced people in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, Feb. 18, 2024. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

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