Netanyahu and Minister Eliyahu
Netanyahu and Minister EliyahuYonatan Sindel/Flash 90, Dana Koppel/POOL

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today (Sunday) the suspension of Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu from cabinet meetings until further notice.

The move follows an interview Eliyahu gave to Kol Barama Radio in which he stated in response to a question of whether an atomic bomb should be dropped on Gaza following the Hamas massacre of October 7: "That is one of the possibilities."

Later, Minister Eliyahu clarified: "It is clear to any reasonable person that my statement about an atom bomb was metaphorical. But we definitely need a powerful and disproportionate response to terrorism, which will make it clear to the Nazis and their supporters that terrorism is not worthwhile. This is the only formula that democratic countries can use to deal with terrorism. At the same time, it is clear that the State of Israel is obligated to do everything to return the abductees safe and sound."

Eliyahu's initial comments were widely condemned within Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote in response: "The words of Minister Amichai Eliyahu are disconnected from reality. Israel and the IDF are acting according to the highest standards of international law to prevent harm to those not involved, and we will continue to do so until victory."

Opposition leader Yair Lapid commented: "A shocking and crazy statement by an irresponsible minister. He has harmed the families of the hostages, harmed Israeli society, and harmed our international status. The presence of the extremists in the government endangers us and the success of the war - the victory over Hamas and the return of the hostages. Netanyahu must fire him this morning."

The organization for the families of the over 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza stated that Eliyahu's comments were "a shocking statement that goes against every principle of Jewish and Israeli morality and conscience. [The families] demand that the Prime Minister take immediate action against any minister who causes harm to the kidnapped and the missing."

MK Naama Lazimi (Labor) wrote: "It is time to remind everyone once again that the 'genius' who thinks it is necessary to drop an atomic bomb on Gaza that will turn Gaza and Israel together into hell on earth for decades to come, is serving in a fictitious position that is depleting the resources and budgets that the war effort needs. He should be fired immediately and in disgrace."

Yediot Ahronot journalist Nadav Eyal responded: "More than Amichai Eliyahu is an extremist, he is simply the stupidest of the government ministers. By far. It is highly doubtful if he would have received any political position if it were not for his family lineage."

MK Yulia Malinovsk (Yisrael Beiteinu): "In light of Minister Amichai Eliyahu's statements, I sometimes wonder if he is a minister in the government or an enthusiastic 14-year-old boy who is starting puberty. Inappropriate."