Posted on November 1, 2023

Israeli Ministry ‘Concept Paper’ Proposes Transferring Gaza Civilians to Egypt’s Sinai

Associated Press, October 30, 2023

An Israeli government ministry has drafted a wartime proposal to transfer the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, drawing condemnation from the Palestinians and worsening tensions with Cairo.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office played down the report compiled by the Intelligence Ministry as a hypothetical exercise — a “concept paper.” But its conclusions deepened long-standing Egyptian fears that Israel wants to make Gaza into Egypt’s problem {snip}


The document is dated Oct. 13, six days after Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people in southern Israel and took over 240 hostage in an attack that provoked a devastating Israeli war in Gaza. It was first published by Sicha Mekomit, a local news site.

In its report, the Intelligence Ministry — a junior ministry that conducts research but does not set policy — offered three alternatives “to effect a significant change in the civilian reality in the Gaza Strip in light of the Hamas crimes that led to the Sword of Iron war.”

The document’s authors deem this alternative to be the most desirable for Israel’s security.

The document proposes moving Gaza’s civilian population to tent cities in northern Sinai, then building permanent cities and an undefined humanitarian corridor. A security zone would be established inside Israel to block the displaced Palestinians from entering. The report did not say what would become of Gaza once its population is cleared out.


Egypt has long feared that Israel wants to force a permanent expulsion of Palestinians into its territory, as happened during the war surrounding Israel’s independence. Egypt ruled Gaza between 1948 and 1967, when Israel captured the territory, along with the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The vast majority of Gaza’s population are the descendants of Palestinian refugees uprooted from what is now Israel.

Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, has said a mass influx of refugees from Gaza would eliminate the Palestinian nationalist cause. It would also risk bringing militants into Sinai, where they might launch attacks on Israel, he said. That would endanger the countries’ 1979 peace treaty. He proposed that Israel instead house Palestinians in its Negev Desert, which neighbors the Gaza Strip, until it ends its military operations.


Egypt would not necessarily be the Palestinian refugees’ last stop. The document speaks about Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates supporting the plan either financially, or by taking in uprooted residents of Gaza as refugees and in the long term as citizens. Canada’s “lenient” immigration practices also make it a potential resettlement target, the document adds.