The United States on Monday described Israeli Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu’s proposal to drop a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip as unacceptable and urged all parties to avoid hate speech.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced the suspension of Eliyahu’s participation in government meetings until further notice, noting that Israel is trying to avoid non-combatants in the bombing it’s launching on the Gaza Strip in response to Hamas attacks.
On Monday, US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said in a statement to reporters, “Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government rejected these statements, which we also consider completely unacceptable”.
He continued, “We still believe that it is important for all parties in this conflict to refrain from hate speech that could raise further tensions”.
In an interview with the Israeli local radio station, Eliyahu expressed his dissatisfaction with the Israeli response to the attack launched by Hamas on Israel on October 7 in the Gaza Strip.
In response to a question posed by his interlocutor about whether he called for dropping some kind of atomic bomb on the Gaza Strip to kill everyone, Eliyahu responded by saying, “This is one of the options”.
Later, the Israeli minister wrote on X that his statements were metaphorical, noting that Israel has never admitted to possessing nuclear weapons.
These statements sparked anger in the Arab world, and Saudi Arabia, which had begun talks about the possible normalization of relations with Israel, considered that the minister’s statements showed the penetration of extremism and brutality among members of the Israeli government, directing criticism at the Netanyahu government for not dismissing the minister.