Hassan Al-Battal
February 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Experts like to clutch statistics in their hands, but there are some statistics which grab journalists by the throats, especially some “marginal” statistics from the last Gaza War. These less-known statistics include the fact that 88% of the population of the Gaza Strip has become dependent on food assistance, and that 600,000 tons is the approximate weight of the rubble from destruction.

Why did I describe those numbers as “marginal?” One of the most obvious is that they are quoted among the smaller news headlines whereas the “main” statistics are the number of the dead and injured. As of the latest counts, these are 1,440 dead and 5,380 wounded and still rising.
Beneath the folds of the headlines of some national newspapers, I read a somewhat cynical calculation which is that the number of Palestinian births in Gaza during the weeks of the war exceeded the number of deaths. If a poet were to write the epic of the noble struggle of the Palestinian life, it might be bracketed between the roles of the midwife and the executioner. In revolutionary political slogans they say that “blood triumphs over the sword,” and in the literature praising the resistance they talk about “the hand that resists the awl.”

Regardless of the weight of these statistics, they cannot obscure the ugly and despicable numbers from the United Nations Bureau of Human Affairs that say that 88% of the population of the Gaza Strip has been reduced to begging “Give us this day our daily bread.” Then consider the “technical mistake” which was committed then rescinded when UNRWA food supplies and blankets were stolen. Such mistakes multiply the human and national degradation because 88% of Gaza Strip residents need food assistance for their daily needs.
Not one speaker at a “Gaza Victorious” rally dared to claim that the steadfastness of Gaza caused the collapse of the government of Olmert. Instead, it fell for reasons that have nothing to do with politics or with an investigation into the failures of the Gaza War. And the leader of the Kadima Party Tzipi Livni failed in her efforts to form a government because she would not yield to the blackmail of the Shas Party rabbis who wanted to adjust the budget of the State of Israel to give their party more privileges and monetary favors.

In less than a month there will be a donor’s conference in Cairo whose sole objective is the reconstruction of Gaza and most probably the funds will languish in the absence of an agreement on the plans and the projects. This will be influenced by two factors: the result of the indirect negotiations that Egypt is conducting between Israel and Hamas to achieve tahdiya, and then Cairo’s ability to break the impossibility of direct negotiations among the Palestinian factions in the direction of forming a coalition government of national consensus that would be called a unity government.
There is a just anxiety that the parties in Israel will beat us to the formation of a coalition government as a result of elections while the Palestinian division gets more deeply mired in the conditions for the consensus government over the conditions for the resurrection and activation of the PLO.

While Gaza is keeping us busy balancing the numbers of the dead and wounded, the rubble and the food packages, the government in Ramallah found a way to introduce the 2009 budget to the civil society sectors in the absence of the never-activated Legislative Council which is waiting for an activation prescription in the form of general elections.
This way the racist Israeli democracy will have gone to the ballot boxes twice since the Gaza coup while Mr. Meshal is calling us in another victory rally “… Gaza Victorious” to Damascus to replace the PLO or activate it through free elections. There is a Greek saying “This here is Rhodes, so jump here.” We can paraphrase the same arbitrary determinism and say: here is your opportunity for free elections to activate “The Divine Victory” in Gaza, and hence to activate the PLO’s institutions.

In the real world, the care taking government of Mr. Fayyad is busy activating the reconstruction of Gaza with an emergency program worth $600 million, through the help of international organizations, by transferring the salaries of 70,000 government employees while the salaries of the West Bank employees wait. Hamas wants a consensus government resulting from the choice of the resistance which made the economic situation in Gaza consume all the assistance while the economic growth in the West Bank is growing at 8% for the year.

Maybe “armies march on their bellies” as Napoleon said and maybe people march to their freedom on their blood, but the speeches of the rallies “Gaza Victorious” march on the empty heads of their makers.
“Another victory like this one?!”


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