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‘No Safe Area’: Gaza Crisis Nearing Its Peak as Netanyahu Appears Committed to an Assault on Rafah

© AP Photo / Hatem AliPalestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on residential buildings and a mosque in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Fe. 22, 2024
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike on residential buildings and a mosque in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Thursday, Fe. 22, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.02.2024
It was reported earlier this month that the administration of US President Joe Biden would send another delivery of weapons to Israel—thought to be worth tens of million of dollars—including bombs, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kits and bomb fuses.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an American television and radio network on Sunday that a potential hostage deal between Israel and Hamas will delay an Israeli military operation in Rafah, but said that Israel will conduct their operation there no matter what. The Israeli president also specified that Israel and Hamas are far from reaching a hostage agreement, and said that Hamas had “delusional claims” and “crazy demands”, but failed to specify what those demands were.
More than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed while another 69,000 have been injured in the conflict between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This month, Israeli Knesset and Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz warned that an invasion of Rafah would begin on March 10 if Israeli hostages are not released. March 10 marks the beginning of Ramadan, a holy day for Muslims.
Esteban Carrillo, a Beirut-based Ecuadorian journalist and the current editor of The Cradle, joined Sputnik’s Fault Lines on Monday to share his perspective on the conflict in Gaza. According to Carrillo, Israel’s plans to invade Rafah, regardless of a ceasefire, have been going on for “months”, adding that the groundwork for a mass displacement of Palestinians is currently being laid out.

“It's the same situation we have been seeing for the past five months [where] Benjamin Netanyahu goes on a US news outlet and says that, confirms that regardless of even a ceasefire deal the invasion of Rafah will continue. And today, the Israeli army presented some sort of plan to remove civilians from the battle zones,” said Carrillo, adding that there has been no additional information nor details from Israeli officials on the removal of civilians from battle zones.

Rescue workers survey the scene following Israeli bombardments over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 12, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.02.2024
Evacuation of Refugees in Rafah to Supposed Safe Zone is ‘Illusion’ - UN
“It's just an announcement that they are considering how to remove the civilians. But we have seen how Israel treats civilians since October 7th, since before, honestly, but the world has been witnessing firsthand how this treatment goes,” he continued.

“So, we can expect another further expansion of genocide, the further ethnic cleansing of these people. Egypt is now building a buffer zone on this border. Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) told Egypt 'we are ready to give you a support package for any, you know, eventuality ... and, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) bought a big, made a big investment in the north of Israel, $35 billion.”

“So, this is just kind of laying the groundwork for what is and is, something that is inevitable, which is the mass displacement of Palestinians, and Netanyahu says it in his own words,” said Carrillo.
In this video grab, residential buildings destroyed by a rocket attack from Israel, as the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Gaza, Palestine - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2024
Israel Strikes Rafah Killing Dozens After Netanyahu Hints of Ground Offensive
The journalist and editor added that he believes Netanyahu will either be punished or dealt with in some way regarding his response and actions in the conflict with Hamas.
“This man [Netanyahu] is someone who at the end of this... he's gone. He will be gone not just because of the internal crisis that he himself got embroiled in, but also because the United States is very likely gonna want to deal with him after everything that's happened in terms of just like the kind of humiliation that US officials are being put through every time they go to Israel, asking please, stop killing civilians and the next day, you know, bombs are being dropped in Rafah.”
It is expected that Israel will submit a report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday regarding efforts it has taken to prevent a genocide in Gaza. This report will be used to garner information on whether or not Israel has compile with their order to prevent acts of genocide on January 26. The ICJ did not call for a ceasefire.
“The ICJ doesn't really have any power to enforce its ruling, and as you say, there's going to be more of a moral condemnation,” Carrillo explained. “And not just of Israel, it would be maybe also the United States for facilitating this and everything that's happened not just since October 7th, but since 1948, since the Nakba, since the catastrophe where almost a million Palestinians were forcibly displaced.”
A Palestinian sits in his house destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Saturday, Feb.10, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.02.2024
Israel Faces ‘No Repercussions’ From ‘Toothless’ White House
“Hamas proposed a long term ceasefire and exchange of prisoners. Israel hasn’t, Israel has just completely swept it aside and is now, just saying, regardless of the ceasefire deal, we're going to go into Rafah, where people are living in tent cities,” he continued. “1.4 million people who have nowhere to go, and we're going to bomb and we're going to level this place because this is the last stronghold of Hamas - this is what Netanyahu says right in that '60 minutes' interview. He said, 'we are so close to victory.'”
“That's what they want you to believe, but the reality is the moment after they go into Rafah with US-made bombs with political cover from the White House, and they have killed tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, Hamas is still going to be there,” he added. “The tunnels are still going to be there. The captives are probably going to be dead, more than likely most of them due to Israel's own attacks.”
Aid from the United Nations to Palestine has dropped by 50% between January and February, according to Carrillo. He adds that these blocks in aid have a direct tie to the actions of the Israeli government as well as Israeli citizens.
“Children are starting to die of hunger. There's a million displaced, Israel is right now in the process of finishing, what they call a militarized belt, splitting the south of Gaza from the north," Carrillo explained.
“What does this mean? This means essentially blocking any Palestinian displaced from the north from ever returning to what used to be their home, and it also means trapping anyone who is in the north because there's still hundreds of thousands of people there. The UN has said, the World Food program has said they cannot get aid into northern Gaza anymore because of how much violence has renewed there.”
A boy stands in the rain at a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 14, 2023. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.11.2023
Israel's Intent to 'Genocide Palestinians' in Gaza 'Is Very Clear' - Journalist
The journalist went on to explain that there will be no “safe area” for Palestinian civilians who are fleeing the conflict. It is instead a “fabrication” to make people feel “good about seeing the mass murder of a population”.
“They said Khan Yunis is a safe area, they said Rafah was a safe area. They said that the corridors were safe and they were bombing civilian caravans, they were killing people left and right. So, no, there is no safe area. The only thing even remotely close to being that will be the buffer zone that Egypt is building in the Sinai desert,” Carrillo explained.
“But this would mean Egypt is taking in displaced Palestinians and going against exactly what the Egyptian government said. And then how do you differentiate?” He continued.
“More than half of the dead in Gaza are women and children. Don't forget that the population of Gaza, 50% of Gaza is children, 50% of them are under 18 years old. So, no, this is just talk. This is anti-rhetoric. This is just what the Israelis are saying to the US media so that, you know, you can march along and support a genocide.”
On Friday, Netanyahu unveiled his plan for an Israeli-endorsed resettlement of Gaza. The prime minister has demanded an indefinite military occupation of the territory, as well as a local government chosen by Israel. The proposed plan was denounced by Palestinian leaders, who called the plan “colonialist and racist.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Israel, Sunday, July 30, 2023.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2024
Netanyahu Demands Occupation, Full Control of Gaza After Israeli Military Operation
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