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Sy Hersh: Israel Gearing Up to Flatten Gaza, Wants Egypt, Qatar to Handle Refugees

A week after Hamas militants launched their brazen attack on Israeli soil, thus sparking the escalation of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel’s military appears poised to roll over the Gaza Strip, which they regard as Hamas’ stronghold.In the days that followed the Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, Israeli forces kept pounding the Gaza Strip with airstrikes in preparation for a ground assault against the densely-populated Palestinian enclave.Israeli authorities have also instructed the Gaza Strip’s civilian population via airdropped leaflets to effectively abandon their homes and evacuate south to the border crossing with Egypt.

While it remains to be seen whether Egypt would be willing to accommodate thousands of Palestinian refugees that might participate in this veritable exodus, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claims citing an Israeli insider that Tel Aviv is trying to convince Qatar to “join with Egypt in funding a tent city for the million or more refugees awaiting across the border.”According to Hersh, the Israeli insider told him that “it’s not a done deal” and that both Qatar and Egypt were warned that the Palestinian refugees would have to “go back to Gaza” in lieu of what the journalist described as a landing site.

“The Israeli hope is that Qatar and Egypt will take the refugee crisis off its hands,” Hersh surmised.The Israeli insider also admitted that his country essentially took a page from the US’ playbook with this plan for Palestinian refugee relocation, referring to the so-called Strategic Hamlet Program from the Vietnam War era.Under the auspices of said program authorized by John F. Kennedy’s administration, Vietnamese civilians living in contested areas were forcibly relocated to housing built in the South Vietnam-controlled areas.

“Their deserted lands were then declared to be Free Fire Zones where all who stayed could be targeted by American troops,” Hersh added, referring to the Vietnam War era program.The plan for the relocation of Palestinian civilians would essentially ensure that “at least the people would not all be killed,” the Israeli insider said, claiming that Hamas wants to keep some civilians within the Gaza Strip to use them as “human shields.”Once the civilian population of the Gaza Strip gets evicted and flees, Israel intends to launch a full-scale bombing campaign that would result in the destruction of the city, if Hersh’s revelations are to be believed.

First, the Israeli Air Force would wipe out the “remaining structures in Gaza City.” Then, Israeli aircraft would start dropping US-made 5,000-pound bunker buster bombs in the “flattened areas” of the Gaza Strip in order to destroy the Hamas’ underground facilities hidden deep beneath the enclave.An Israeli insider told Hersh that the “current Israeli war planners” believe such munitions – “upgraded version of JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) with larger warheads” – would be able to penetrate up to 50 meters deep before exploding and “killing all within one-half mile.”After the bunker busters do their job, Israeli infantry forces would move in to conduct mop-up operations.

One Israeli Defense Force veteran, however, told Hersh that “the Israeli planners don’t trust their infantry,” with the journalist clarifying that the Israeli leadership is concerned about their soldiers’ potential “disastrous lack of combat experience.”The Israeli planners thus seem reluctant to immediately send IDF forces into the Gaza Strip to engage in urban combat with Hamas militants, and seek to first flatten the city before commencing ground operations there.Meanwhile, a former European intelligence official expressed his skepticism about the Israeli plan, telling Hersh that “a city in rubble is just as dangerous as at any time” and that “the talk of JDAMS is the talk of people who don’t know what to do.”The official argued that Hamas’ tunnels are situated so deep underground they can withstand the attacks with JDAMs.“This was a carefully planned operation, and Hamas knew exactly what the Israeli reaction would be. Urban warfare is awful,” Hersh’s European source said.

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