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'No Exit Strategy, No Plan': Israel Turns Its Eyes on Jerusalem as Gaza Strip War Crumbles

© AFP 2023 / EYAD BABAPalestinian children carry bowls as they walk past tents housing people who lost their homes, in the city of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip on June 30, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group
Palestinian children carry bowls as they walk past tents housing people who lost their homes, in the city of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip on June 30, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.07.2024
On Wednesday, it was reported that an Israeli strike killed one of Hezbollah’s top commanders in south Lebanon.
Palestinian health officials said on Tuesday that an Israeli strike killed at least nine people in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis just less than a day after the state ordered the evacuation of Palestinians from parts of that city. According to Sam Rose, the director of planning at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), about 250,000 people fled to a new “off-limits area”, and another 50,000 may also flee in the near future due to their proximity to the fighting.
News of the Palestinians’ relocation is disheartening as many of the more than 1 million Palestinian civilians who fled the Israeli assault on Rafah had been sheltering in Khan Yunis and are once more being forcibly displaced, Sputnik’s Rachel Blevins noted.
Ecuadorian journalist and editor of The Cradle, Esteban Carrillo, joined The Backstory on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, as well as Israel’s reported threats against Hezbollah. Carrillo suggested that there is no such thing as a “safe zone” in the Gaza Strip and that there hasn’t been for the “past nine months”.
“At this point in Gaza, NGOs and local officials are saying there's 1.9 million people displaced. Now, remember, the population of Gaza at the start of [this war] was 2.2 million. So, essentially, half, considering the numbers that have already managed to leave and obviously the dead and missing. This is the entire population of Gaza that at this point has been displaced,” Carrillo suggested. “They have no homes. Their people are sleeping on the street.”
“Gaza, it's such a small place. It's about 360 km square. It's like a small US city, and nine months in it's being flattened, it's being destroyed. No services, no running water, no electricity, no heating during the winter. No cool air during the summer. And what are they doing? You know, what are they doing besides just killing loads of civilians? What is the Israeli army doing there? They are depleting their ammunition supplies. They are essentially running on fumes at this point,” he added.

“And Khan Yunis is also the home of the last barely working hospital in Gaza, which is Nasser Hospital. And also this is being under threat at this point. It has been the case over the past, well, nearly nine months at this point,” said Carrillo. “Sadly, Khan Yunis was first evacuated on December 5th and then it became kind of like the central, the main tent city in southern Gaza around May, when the operation in Rafah started.”

“What is the Israeli army doing in Gaza nine months into this genocide? How much longer is it going to take them to achieve their stated goal, right, which was to completely destroy Hamas. How many times are they going to announce that they disabled Hamas battalions, that they crippled Hamas, that they would destroy all Hamas fighters in specific cities only for two or three months down the line to have to go back in.”
Israel seems set to scale down their bombardment of Gaza, and turn their attention to the north with a possible war against Hezbollah on the horizon, Blevins reported. However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that there have been no signs that Israel will lower their bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
“How can they slow down when the Pentagon sends weapons on an average of every four days? Bombs and shells and ammunition, and they are hitting Gaza with such ferocity that there's concerns that they are running out of shells, despite the fact that they keep getting replenished,” Carrillo explained. “So, the only plan here was, yes, to kill as many Palestinians as possible to make this trip uninhabitable.”
“[Israel has] accomplished absolutely nothing. The wholesale destruction of the Gaza Strip was not a strategic goal of the invasion, right. It was to defeat Hamas. They are nowhere near that,” said Carrillo. “There is no out. There is no exit strategy. There is no plan. There was never an actual plan from the beginning.”
“And I think Israeli leaders are kind of hoping that this is going to be the case for them, too, so that they continue on with their genocide and their ethnic cleansing campaign and without having to deal with so much pressure from the global stage,” he added. “And what makes it, what would make the Israelis stop and not come at us next or somebody else, that is, a proxy of a larger power, like the US.”
On June 18, the IDF reportedly approved and validated operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said that Israel was “very close” to a decision to “change the rules” against Hezbollah and Lebanon and threatened to destroy the movement "in an all-out war" and "severely hit" Lebanon, Sputnik reported on Saturday. During the interview, Blevins suggested that Israel may want to escalate tensions with Lebanon as a way to distract the world stage from the humanitarian crises in Gaza.
“[Israel hasn’t] been able to take on Hamas in Gaza after nine months. Hezbollah can make Israel feel such pain that they have never felt before in a matter of days. There's the threat from Israeli leaders about taking Lebanon back to the Stone Age. What do you think's going to happen to Israel? You know, what Hezbollah is going to do to Israel is going to be exactly the same, if not worse, because Hezbollah is not depleted. Hezbollah is not weary. Hezbollah hasn't spent nine months fighting a brutal war,” Carrillo suggested.
“[Israel doesn’t] know where Hezbollah is. Hezbollah also has a network of tunnels in the border. So it's the same situation that they would find themselves in Gaza. The only thing they could go for is for Lebanese infrastructure, and that would just unleash the wrath of not just Hezbollah, the Iraqi resistance that was already pledged to join this fight. The Yemenis would expand their operations. Even there, in Afghanistan, the Taliban has offered to send soldiers to fight Israel. And you have Iran who are saying if Israel expands the war on Lebanon, Hezbollah has our full support.”
“First of all, there is no chance. Hezbollah will remain on the border. There is no way, especially after the events of the last nine months. So all that is really the only force that can keep Lebanon safe from these, ethno-national, this ethno-state that they are sadly neighbors of,” said Carrillo, when asked if Hezbollah will meet Israeli demands and withdraw from the border areas beyond the Litani River.
“You know, this genocidal state. So, of course, they're not gonna move. The Lebanese army is not, it's not, it cannot really defend Lebanon to the extent that Lebanon needs defending, right. Remember, Lebanon is a highly, highly, crisis-hit country,” he added.
“Lebanon is a member of the Arab League. Lebanon is a country that has ties with the US, with the EU, there's a US embassy here, a UK embassy, a French embassy,” he added. “We're talking about a sovereign nation that has a resistance force that works as the only bulwark to protect its people and its interest against a state that seeks its destruction, right? So it's not really, it's very unlikely to happen.”
Shortly before the publication of this article, it was reported that an Israeli strike killed one of Hezbollah’s top commanders in south Lebanon on Wednesday. The IDF said they killed Hezbollah’s Mohammed Nasser, and claimed he was the commander of a unit responsible for firing from southwestern Lebanon into Israel, Reuters reported.
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