December 10, 2023

Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi doubled down on his call to “burn Gaza” in an interview with 103 FM on Monday. Vaturi’s Twitter account was blocked after he tweeted on Sunday that Israel had to do “no less than burn Gaza”. In his interview on Monday, he repeated the sentiment, adding that he doesn’t need to be ashamed of it. “Who’s left in Gaza?” he asked interviewers Yishay Cohen and Ben Caspit. “Are there citizens? There are only tunnels, Hamas, and accursed terrorists who murdered children and are holding children hostage. We have to crush Gaza, Gaza is Hamas.” Gaza has a population of over two million, many of whom are civilians. While many of the residents of northern Gaza evacuated to the South, they are still within the Gaza Strip, and not all civilians evacuated. He later claimed, during a Knesset plenum session, that he was being purposely misquoted and that he only meant that the terrorists should be burned. He did not, however, say terrorists in the tweet or the interview. Vaturi is the latest MK to make controversial statements about Gaza and its fate. Earlier this month, Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu from Otzma Yehudit was suspended from government meetings after he said in an interview that nuking the Strip was an option and that hostages who would be killed in such an attack would merely be the price of war. Following that interview, party leader National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir banned his party members from doing interviews. Last week, Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter caused more controversy when he called the evacuation of Gazans to the south of the Strip “Nakba 2023.” After that statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his government to be sensitive and exhibit caution in their public statements.