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First pilot for Gaza local government starts under IDF supervision - report

Gazan citizens to be given responsibility over Zeitoun neighborhood

Palestinian walk through rubbles of houses destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the Jabalia area in the northern Gaza Strip, October 11, 2023. (Photo: Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

The IDF is advancing a pilot project to transfer responsibility for managing part of the Gaza Strip to several local civilians, according to a report by Israel's Channel 12 news on Wednesday evening.

Military correspondent Nir Dvori said the IDF’s large-scale operation in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City is part of the preparations for the project and aims to completely clear the area of Hamas terrorists to facilitate the efforts.

In a first step, Israel intends to transfer control over the receipt and distribution of humanitarian aid to locals. The distribution of the aid, which mainly enters the Strip from the south, has often been taken over by Hamas gunmen and only sporadically reaches the isolated northern part.

The main challenge for Israel will be to secure the area and then prevent Hamas operatives from reinfiltrating the area over time in order to try and take over the government again, according to Channel 12.

As part of the preparation for the pilot, unidentified Gazan representatives recently met with Israeli officials to discuss the plans.

Despite some security officials believing that the PA should be tasked with the government's efforts in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the army not to involve the PA in any plans for the management of the Strip after the war, the Times of Israel reported.

The pilot project in Zeitoun, therefore, is an effort to find alternative arrangements for the ‘Day After’ the end of the war against Hamas.

Despite the pilot, residents of the northern Gaza Strip who fled their homes to the south during the war, will not allowed to return to the northern Gaza Strip yet.

The project will also include an Israeli initiative to completely replace school books and educational material inciting antisemitism and hatred of Israel.

In a briefing on Wednesday, War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz referred to an international initiative that would see moderate Arab countries establish a new civil administration in the Gaza Strip after the war.

“We are examining several options so that aid to Gaza will be delivered through an international administration of moderate Arab countries with the support of the US. We are currently promoting pilot programs of the transfer,” Gantz said.

“Our goal and the goal of the donor countries is the same: aid to the residents and not to the terrorists” and “we are working to strengthen the moderate axis vis-à-vis Iran, and establish a regional administration that will help the Palestinians build another government in Gaza,” he added.

Netanyahu has said in the past that Israel wants local Palestinian community leaders who had no known affiliations with either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority to manage the area after the war.

U.S. officials have pushed for a "revitalized" Palestinian Authority to take over the governance of the Strip after the war.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded: “At some point, what would make the most sense would be for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority to have governance and ultimately security responsibility for Gaza.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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