Israeli Minister Bezalel Smotrich speaking to Netanyahu (left) at a previous event (Reuters)

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for encouraging what he called the "voluntary migration" of residents of the Gaza Strip and finding countries willing to receive them.

In an interview with Israel's Channel 12, Smotrich, known for his extremist remarks, said Gaza "will no longer be a hotbed for two million people who want to destroy the State of Israel, we want to encourage voluntary immigration."

The right-wing minister, who leads the extremist Jewish Home party, said Tel Aviv should find countries that wanted to take in Gazans.

"We have to stay in Gaza for a long time, and I encourage radical change in the Strip," Smotrich said, expressing his rejection of the Palestinian Authority taking over the Gaza Strip.

He said he was in favour of a complete change in the reality in Gaza through a discussion on settlements there.

During Israel's war on Gaza, Smotrich made controversial statements that drew dismissive and reprehensible reactions, such as calling Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Nazis, demanding the establishment of security buffer zones around settlements and roads and preventing Arabs from entering them, and also calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant to stop harvesting Palestinian olives in the occupied West Bank.

Smotrich belongs to the far-right camp, whose members have made racist statements against Palestinians in recent weeks, most notably Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu saying he supports bombing the Gaza Strip with a nuclear bomb.

Since October 7, Israel has waged a war on the Gaza Strip, leaving 21,672 dead and 56,165 injured, most of them women and children, in addition to massive destruction of infrastructure and an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.

Source : Al Jazeera + Agencies