Israel to Test Gaza Day-After Vision With ‘Humanitarian Pockets’

An IDF soldier stands on an artillery unit in Israel, Thursday. (REUTERS/Susana Vera)

(Reuters) – Israel is seeking Palestinians who are not affiliated with Hamas to manage civilian affairs in areas of the Gaza Strip designed as testing grounds for post-war administration of the enclave, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday.

But Hamas said the plan, which the Israeli official said would also exclude anybody on the payroll of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority (PA), was doomed to failure.

The Israeli official said the planned “humanitarian pockets” would be in districts of the Gaza Strip from which Hamas has been expelled, but that their ultimate success would hinge on Israel achieving its goal of destroying the terror group across the Strip that it has been governing.

“We’re looking for the right people to step up to the plate,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “But it is clear that this will take time, as no one will come forward if they think Hamas will put a bullet in their head.”

The plan, the official added, “may be achieved once Hamas is destroyed and doesn’t pose a threat to Israel or to Gazans.”

Channel 12 reported that the Zeitoun neighborhood of northern Gaza City was a candidate for implementation of the plan, under which local merchants and civil society leaders would distribute humanitarian aid.

The IDF would provide peripheral security in Zeitoun, Channel 12 said, describing renewed troop incursions there this week as designed to root out remnants of a Hamas garrison that was hit hard in the early stages of the war.

There was no official confirmation of the report.

The Israeli official also made clear that the PA, which exercises limited self-rule in Yehudah and Shomron, would also be barred as a partner in the “humanitarian pockets” on account of its failure to condemn the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

“Anyone who took part in, or even failed to condemn, Oct. 7 is ruled out,” the official said.

The United States has called for a “revitalized” PA to govern Gaza after the war. But Israel has been cool to the idea, noting that the PA provides payouts to jailed militants.

Still, the official said, Israel would be willing to consider “humanitarian pocket” partners with past links to the PA’s dominant Fatah faction, a more secular rival to Hamas.

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