Israel Mulls Establishing Multi-National Force in Gaza

The troops would reportedly take charge of maintaining law and order in the region and escorting humanitarian aid convoys

Israel has proposed the possibility of establishing a multi-national military force in Gaza, as reported by Axios on Friday. Government sources were cited as the basis for this report. According to the report, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant first proposed the idea during his visit to Washington earlier this week.

The proposal involves deploying a contingent of troops from Arab countries to Gaza for a limited transition period. The force’s responsibilities would include escorting and facilitating humanitarian aid deliveries, as well as maintaining law and order within the enclave. Additionally, they are expected to assist in the establishment of an alternative governing body in Gaza, according to one of the sources.

Gallant reportedly requested Washington’s support for the initiative during his meetings with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Discussions regarding the proposal have also reportedly taken place between Israeli officials and representatives from at least three Arab countries, including Egypt, in recent weeks.

“Progress towards promoting this initiative has been made, both in terms of the Biden administration’s willingness to engage in discussions and the openness of Arab countries to the idea,” stated one of the sources.

However, an anonymous Arab official from one of the countries involved in the talks indicated that the deployment of foreign troops to the region is unlikely until the current hostilities have ended. A US official added that the move would necessitate an official invitation from the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and would only occur in the context of a two-state solution. This, the source noted, makes the initiative unlikely in the near term due to Israel’s continued opposition to recognizing Palestine as a separate state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consistently rejected the idea of establishing a Palestinian state after the war. He also criticized the UN Security Council resolution passed earlier this week, which called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, claiming that it would undermine Israel’s efforts to free the Israelis held by Hamas. Militants from the organization launched an incursion from Gaza into southern Israel in October, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people and the capture of numerous hostages. Israel has committed to continuing its military operations in the enclave until Hamas strongholds are completely eliminated.

According to recent figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict.