Israel has suspended a junior minister who claimed dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza was “one of the possibilities” in the country’s war with Hamas.
Amihai Eliyahu of the right-wing Otzma Yehudit party made the inflammatory remark in a radio interview. As minister for Jewish heritage, he has no role in war decision-making.
Still, Eliyahu’s comment drew immediate condemnation from other cabinet members. He later backtracked, calling it “metaphorical” but said Israel should respond “powerfully and disproportionately to terrorism.”
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said: “It’s a good thing that people like this are not in charge of Israel’s security.”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid called for Eliyahu’s dismissal, labeling the statement “shocking and crazy” and the minister “irresponsible.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended Eliyahu from cabinet meetings pending further notice, according to Army Radio.
Netanyahu stated that Eliyahu’s comments “are not based in reality.” He reiterated that Israel operates lawfully to avoid civilian casualties and will continue to do so.
The inflammatory nuclear remark comes amid Israel’s military campaign against Hamas following rocket attacks on October 7th. Eliyahu holds no authority in the government’s war decision-making process.