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Did an Israeli Leader Say, 'It's Time To Turn Gaza into Dresden! Gas the Palestinians Now'?

X user @jacksonhinklle
X user @jacksonhinklle

On Oct. 30, 2023, social media users shared a screenshot of an article claiming that an "Israeli leader" said, "It's time to turn Gaza into Dresden! Gas the Palestinians now!" One post reached over 440,000 views, and the image attached to the viral post was a screenshot of an article published by The People’s Voice (previously known as NewsPunch), a "news" website best known for generating clickbait, conspiracist content.

(X user @jacksonhinklle)

Another X user shared the same screenshot, reaching over 676,000 views, with a caption that read:

Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin has declared that Israel will soon begin the process of gassing all remaining Palestinians living in Gaza, with the aim of complete and total “annihilation” of Palestinian civilians living near Israel.

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We started our research by looking for the origins of the claim as stated in The People’s Voice's article (which mostly consisted of embedded X posts).

Israeli Leader: “It’s Time To Turn Gaza Into Dresden! Gas the Palestinians Now!”

Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin has declared that Israel will soon begin the process of gassing all remaining Palestinians living in Gaza, with the aim of complete and total “annihilation” of Palestinian civilians living near Israel.

The rest of the article consisted of embeds of various posts shared on X.

The person visible in the article and social media posts referred to as an "Israeli leader" is Moshe Feiglin, an Israeli politician and former member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. "He is also not a leader. not in the government, not a minister and has no official role in Israel," one X user commented, accurately. Feiglin is not a member of the Israeli government. His Wikipedia page calls him a "leader of libertarian Zionist party Zehut," which might have been the source of other media outlets calling him an "Israeli leader." Information about the Zehut party provided by Israel Democracy Institute underscored that it failed to cross the electoral threshold in 2019:

Zehut ["identity" in Hebrew] was established in 2015 by former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin. Failing to be elected to a high place in Likud's primary elections Feiglin announced his resignation from the party and the establishment of a new political party under the name Zehut. The party combines two main principles: Jewish identity and personal liberty. Its platform includes libertarian economic positions, support for Greater Israel, and a separation of state and religion. Before the 2019 elections it held open primaries to select its list of candidates, the first Israeli party experimenting with this method. The party attracted big media attention along the campaign and polls marked it as the prospected election surprise. Nevertheless, it failed to cross the electoral threshold.

Moreover, in a 2013 article, Institute of Middle East Understanding called Feiglin "an ultra-right-wing religious nationalist politician and leader." Although Feiglin was not a member of the Israeli government, he was still active on social media platforms such as Facebook, X, or Telegram. However, describing him as an "Israeli leader" misleadingly suggests he was speaking for Israel's government or the Israeli people at large.

The first part of Feiglin's alleged quote read, "It's time to turn Gaza into Dresden!" The People’s Voice article redirected to a video published by the Middle East Eye's X profile. The video was also shared on Middle East Eye's YouTube channel with a title that read "Moshe Feiglin: The only solution is the 'complete destruction of Gaza'."

We transcribed the interview to check the authenticity of the claim (emphasis ours):

Moshe Feiglin: We do not need a victory to restore the image of Israel's dignity or to restore our deterrent image which we have lost completely in the jungle that surrounds us. Now we need to retaliate with strong vengeance. There is one and only one solution, which is to complete destroy Gaza, before invading it. And when I talk about destruction, I mean destruction like it was in Dresden and Hiroshima, without nuclear weapon. I don't recall that Biden or his predecessors, I don't recall that the Americans provided safe humanitarian passageways for the residents of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. On the contrary, they looked for the weakest cities and over there they dropped their rockets to make it clear that they were serious. This is what brought an end to the war and saved the lives of 1 million American soldiers.

Journalist: And that is the price that hundreds of us paid?

Moshe Feiglin: On the contrary. Now they have a very high number of deaths and it will remain that way. But if you do to them, like was done in Dresden. Like what the British did, and if you burned everything. And if you threw bombs that penetrate defensive structures, to penetrate al-Shifa Hospital, and to destroy the ground from beneath it, without any consequences

In the interview, Feiglin stated that Gaza should be destroyed "like was done in Dresden" during World War II. For reference, here's a short part of Encyclopedia Britannica's article on the bombing of Dresden:

Bombing of Dresden, during World War II, Allied bombing raids on February 13–15, 1945, that almost completely destroyed the German city of Dresden. The raids became a symbol of the “terror bombing” campaign against Germany, which was one of the most controversial Allied actions of the war.

The video was authentic and was originally shared on Aljazeera Mubasher YouTube channel, where it was translated from Hebrew to Arabic.

The second interview shared in The People’s Voice article was quoted by a different X account.

We transcribed the video's subtitles to verify whether Feiglin said, "Gas the Palestinians now" (emphasis ours):

Moshe Feiglin: Do not leave a stone upon a stone in Gaza. Gaza needs to turn to Dresden, yes! Complete incineration, no more hope. We are still in the Oslo (agreements) and still knocking on the roof. This night the Airforce still knocks on the roof before it bombed a lame tower in a hospital, around Al Shifa Hospital. Instead of flattening all of Gaza. So all of your 64 mandates (votes) Benjamin Netanyahu now need to protest in front of your home!

Host: Ok, we...

Moshe Feiglin: Annihilate Gaza now! Now!

The politician did not say "Gas the Palestinians now." Instead, he said, "Annihilate Gaza now." Moreover, yet again he said that Gaza needed to "turn to Dresden." The interview was authentic and it was shared on Feiglin's official YouTube channel on Oct. 10, 2023. The in-question parts shared in social media posts start around 2:40 and 6:36 in the video shared on Feiglin's YouTube channel.

All in all, the viral quote was a mixture of truth and falsehoods.

The "Israeli leader" mentioned in the article that sparked controversy on social media was not an Israeli official, as some posts suggested. Moreover, his alleged statement, "It's time to turn Gaza into Dresden! Gas the Palestinians now!" was cobbled together from bits of two separate statements from different interviews. In one of them, Feiglin actually said, "There is one and only one solution, which is to complete destroy Gaza, before invading it. And when I talk about destruction I mean destruction like it was in Dresden [...]." However, he did not at any point say, "Gas the Palestinians now," though he did say "annihilate Gaza now."

Sources:

Adl-Tabatabai, Sean. “Israeli Leader: ‘It’s Time To Turn Gaza Into Dresden! Gas the Palestinians Now!’” The People’s Voice, 29 Oct. 2023, https://thepeoplesvoice.tv/israeli-leader-its-time-to-turn-gaza-into-dresden-gas-the-palestinians-now/.

Bombing of Dresden | History, Deaths, & Facts | Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/bombing-of-Dresden. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.

IMEU. Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin & The Jewish Leadership Faction | IMEU. https://imeu.org/article/knesset-member-moshe-feiglin-the-jewish-leadership-faction. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.

Moshe Feiglin: The Only Solution Is the “Complete Destruction of Gaza.” www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjLW847tvig. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.

Zehut. https://en.idi.org.il/israeli-elections-and-parties/parties/zehut/. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.

סופת אש צריכה לשטוף את עזה, עכשיו! - משה פייגלין באולפן 14. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yPjMy9G-Fo. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.

عضو سابق في الكنيست الإسرائيلي: الحل الوحيد هو تدمير غزة بالكامل مثل ما حدث في هيروشيما وناجازاكي. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7IwdsyIKqQ. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.