Inside the Middle East
Q: Martin KramerÂ spoke of Gaza’s “superfluous young men.” Is anyone in Gaza “superfluous”?
A: “I don’t mind if Gazans continue producing babies, but they will have to move somewhere else. They simply will not fit into their current geography – forgetting about feeding and employing them, too.”Â (Dr. Hassan Abu Libdeh, president, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2000.)
Q: Okay… Well, if that’s the situation, wouldn’t it make sense for Gaza’s government to promote family planning?
A: “Unlike the West that practices family planning, we encourage having children for political reasons.”Â (Dr. Abd al-Aziz Rantisi, co-founder of Hamas in Gaza, 2003.)
Q: Political reasons? For couples having children?
A: “Marriage is the same as jihad. With marriage, you are producing another generation that believes in resistance.”Â (Muhammad Yousef, member of the Qassam Brigades in Gaza, the Hamas underground, 2008.)
Q: I hadn’t thought of that. So would you say the present Israeli sanctions are starving the “resistance” in the cradle?
A: “It’s not a humanitarian crisis. People aren’t starving.”Â (Khaled Abdel Shaafi, director, UN Development Program in Gaza, 2008.)
Q: But Kramer said that the present sanctions might be breaking Gaza’s runaway birth rate. If so, how?
A: “The percentage of married females in 1997 was 57.2% compared to 50.5% in 2007. This indicates a decrease in marriage rates in the Gaza Strip, which could be due to Israeli siege and the resulting economic impacts.”Â (Dr. Luay Shabaneh, president, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2009.)
Q: Aha, that’s how. But Gaza’s still growing fast, so what’s the long-term solution?
A: “All the rural Jews in the southern district from Ashdod (Isdud) to Eilat (Umm Rashrash) are less in number than one refugee camp in Gaza. Their density is six persons per square kilometer while that of Gaza’s population – the owners of this very land – is 6,000 per square kilometer.”Â (Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, president, Palestine Land Society, 2007.)
Q: Yes, but… that land is in Israel proper. Are you saying that Gaza’s problem can’t be solved in Gaza’s pre-1967 borders?
A: “Hamas looks toward Palestine! All Palestine! The liberation of Gaza is only a step on the road to the complete and total liberation of all Palestine, with the help of God Almighty.”Â (Ismail Haniyeh, Gaza’s Hamas prime minister, 2009.)
Q: Thank you for your… candor.