In a move that precedes US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to the region, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced a plan outlining post-Hamas governance in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet stands polarised over determining Gaza’s future. The plan entails a phased approach, commencing with the continuation of Israel’s operations in Gaza until the safe return of hostages taken on 7 October. Key objectives include dismantling the Hamas military and governing infrastructure while neutralising any lingering security threats.

The subsequent phase of Gallant’s proposal points to a shift in control away from Hamas, relinquishing their hold on Gaza. Under this plan, unspecified Palestinian entities would oversee governance. However, Israel stresses the prerogative to maintain an operational presence within Gaza while ensuring the absence of Israeli ‘ post-war objectives’ fulfilment.

Titled Vision for Phase 3 of the conflict, the document stands as Gallant’s proposal pending approval from Israel’s war and security cabinets. The proposed strategy outlines a nuanced approach to altering tactics, employing a scaled-down “new combat approach” in northern Gaza while continuing operations against Hamas in the south until resolution.

The strategic shift involves a redefined military approach in the north, focusing on targeted raids, tunnel destruction, specialised air and ground activities, and strategic operations aimed at eroding the remaining Hamas presence. Notably, the plan omits mention of the potential return of the population from northern Gaza, most of whom have relocated south amid the conflict’s upheaval.

Gallant’s proposal hinges on the consensus within Israel’s war and security cabinets.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, along with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, advocated divergent and controversial visions for Gaza’s future. Ben-Gvir urged Israeli settlers to return post-war and proposed encouraging the emigration of the Palestinian population, sparking condemnation from Arab states and Israel’s key ally, the US.

Contrarily, the US presented a proposal advocating for a revitalised Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza. This proposal aligns with the upcoming talks during Blinken’s visit, focusing on aid for Gaza and avoiding more tensions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly declined planning requests from security officials for post-war control.

The Palestinian deaths from Israel’s bombing of Gaza now stand at 22,400, predominantly women and children. Large parts of northern Gaza lay in ruins, displacing 85% of the population into increasingly confined spaces amid a severe humanitarian crisis worsened by an Israeli-imposed siege.

Continuous Israeli airstrikes and shelling have perpetuated deaths destruction, with Israel’s recent strike on Mawasi that killed civilians, mostly children. Israel’s military has not yet responded to the incident.

Gallant’s strategic plan coincides with Israel’s imminent defence at The Hague’s International Court of Justice, facing allegations of genocide by South Africa due to its campaign in Gaza, which has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, mostly women and children.