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Israel PM Netanyahu planning to 'purge' West Bank of Palestinians: Ehud Olmert

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the inhumane attacks on the conflict-hit Gaza Strip by Israel is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's larger strategy to remove Palestinians from the West Bank. "Gaza is merely the beginning stage, a springboard for this group's ultimate goal: to conquer the West Bank and the Temple Mount in a forthcoming conflict," Olmert added.

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published February 23,2024

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday that Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza is just a step in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government plan to purge the West Bank of Palestinians.

Describing Netanyahu's government as a "gang," Olmert wrote in the Israeli daily Haaretz that "the supreme aim of the duo National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is not the occupation of the Gaza Strip."

"Gaza is just the introductory chapter, the platform this gang wants to build as the foundation upon which the real fight they are eyeing will be conducted: the battle for the West Bank and the Temple Mount," he said, referring to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, using its name in Judaism.

Olmert argued that "the ultimate aim of this gang is 'purging' the West Bank of its Palestinian inhabitants, cleansing the Temple Mount of its Muslim worshippers."

He warned that "the way to achieve this goal is blood-soaked. Israeli blood, in the state and in the territories it has been controlling for 57 years now, as well as Jewish blood in places elsewhere in the world."

"As well as a lot of Palestinian blood, of course, in the territories, in Jerusalem and if there is no alternative-also among Arab citizens of Israel," he added.

"This aim will not be achieved without extensive violent conflict. Armageddon."

Estimates indicate about 700,000 Israeli settlers live in roughly 300 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

All Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal under international law.

Tensions have been running high across the West Bank since Israel launched a deadly military offensive against the Gaza Strip following an Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

Since then, nearly 30,000 people have been killed in mass destruction caused along with shortages of necessities. Nearly 70,000 people have been injured.

Around 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack while over 200 were taken back to Gaza as hostages.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.