LONDON: Hamas militants could be exiled from the Gaza Strip to bring about a quick end to violence in the enclave under new Israeli and US plans, it was reported on Thursday.
Officials are exploring the idea of expelling thousands of Hamas members to other countries, which could include Qatar, Lebanon, Turkiye, Russia, and Iran, a report in The Wall Street Journal said.
It added that the plan would prevent the group from retaking power in Gaza at the conclusion of the Israeli-Hamas conflict, but any move would need the approval of the countries of destination, and it was unclear if family members of Hamas militants would be included.
Another option being considered by military officials in Israel and the US is the creation of “Hamas-free zones” in Gaza ruled by a new governing power backed by Gulf states.
The Wall Street Journal’s report quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official.
“I don’t see them as rational as the PLO was,” the official said, referring to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
“It’s a more religious, jihadistic organization connected to the ideas of Iran.”
The source added that there had been no “practical discussion” about exiling Hamas members in large numbers, but said the militant group may warm to the idea if “no other options” for its survival were on offer. The militants have not yet issued a response to the report.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has suggested NATO temporarily having a presence in Gaza, in an interview with The Telegraph, while there are also discussions about Gulf leaders stepping in.