Khaled Mishal, the leader of the Hamas politburo, delivered a televised speech as he stood in front of a sign that read ‘Gaza has Won’. A lot of what was said in this speech deserves to be reflected upon and analyzed, especially since it contained elements of Hamas’s intentions for the future with regards to the Arabs and the future of inter-Palestinian relations.
Mishal promised that those affected by the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip would receive a certain amount of compensation, the details of which would be left to Ismail Haniyeh. He continued, however, calling upon countries that pledged that they would donate to Gaza not to hand over any money to the “corrupt” i.e. the Palestinian Authority.
Addressing the leaders of the donor countries, Mishal said, “I say to you: Be careful of where [this money] will go and to whom it will be handed. Do not give it to the corrupt,” adding, “Either give it to the Ismail Haniyeh government…or the other option is for you to take charge of reconstruction programs yourselves in any way you want.”
It has become apparent that the next battle in Gaza will be a battle over financial aid, not a battle to rebuild Palestine in spite of everything that happened in Gaza. It was clear from Mishal’s comments that the Palestinian cause is not important; what is important is to whom these funds will be given!
It is strange that Mishal announced victory despite the death of approximately 1330 Palestinians, the destruction of 4000 houses in the Gaza Strip, and the wounding of some 5300 Palestinians. He then proceeded to speak about the “root of all evil” i.e. money despite that he was the one who said that the pain and the harm caused by Israeli attacks are only temporary. Isn’t money also only temporary?
The question here is: is it money that is most important to the “victorious”? Is it more important than human lives, the destruction caused, or Palestinian unity? We know that the victorious do not hope [for things to happen]; rather they impose their conditions and the most important condition for victory is imposing a reality on the ground. The reality today is that Hamas is still making the same demands; ending the blockade and opening the border crossings!
One of my colleagues pointed out that the ‘Gaza has Won’ sign that was displayed behind Mishal during his speech was similar to the sign hanging behind former US President George W. Bush in a speech he delivered three years ago on the Iraq war, which read ‘Mission Accomplished.’ This is what people will pick up on today as they look at the magnitude of the disaster in Gaza.
Mishal, who lives in Damascus, knows only too well that those who traded in the blood of Gaza did not rush to his rescue; all that the people of Gaza received from those who raise slogans was the weapon of rhetoric.
Therefore, if Hamas wants to change the reality of the situation for the sake of the people of Gaza and all Palestinians, then it must reunite the Palestinians first. Furthermore, the Arab world must not swallow the bait as it did in the case of Hezbollah in Lebanon following the 2006 war when Hassan Nasrallah announced the “divine victory” and accused the Lebanese government of treason. By doing so he deflected the public’s resentment in a direction away from Hezbollah. It seems that this is what Hamas is thinking of doing today.
It is up to the donor countries that have pledged aid for Gaza to come up with an international mechanism that ensures transparency and that is subject to control in order to ensure that money actually gets to those who deserve it in Gaza. It is also up to the Arabs to make the most of the Saudi reconciliation initiative, which Mishal ignored in his speech, otherwise we should expect another [military] venture and more Israeli revelry!