Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday suspended Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu for suggesting that dropping a nuclear bomb on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was within the realm of possibility.
Netanyahu has barred Eliyahu from attending Cabinet meetings indefinitely.
“Amichai Eliyahu’s words are detached from reality. Israel and the IDF are acting in accordance with the highest standards of international law in order to prevent harm to uninvolved people, and we will continue to do that all the way to victory,” said Netanyahu in a statement.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid similarly took Eliyahu to task, describing the claim as “a horrifying and insane remark by an irresponsible minister.”
With his remark, “[Eliyahu] offended the families of the [241 Gaza] captives, offended Israeli society and harmed our international standing,” said Lapid, adding: “Netanyahu must fire him this morning.”
Eliyahu subsequently walked back his statement, arguing that “it is clear to all sensible people that the statement about the atom [bomb] is metaphorical.”
However, he continued, “A strong and disproportionate response to terrorism is definitely required, which will clarify to the Nazis and their supporters that terrorism is not worthwhile. This is the only formula that democratic states can use to deal with terrorism.
“At the same time, it is clear that the State of Israel is committed to doing everything possible to return the hostages safe and sound,” he said.