Monday, January 19, 2009

Gaza Conflict Ceasefire: After 22 Days, 1,300 Dead, 5,400 Wounded

(CNN) -- More than 1,300 Palestinians died and about 5,400 others were wounded during Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza, the Web site of the Palestinian Authority's Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

Louay Shabana, head of the agency, said more than 22,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Shabana put the economic destruction at more than $1.9 billion.

A Palestinian man Monday prays in the rubble of his home,  destroyed during Israel's offensive in Gaza.

A Palestinian man Monday prays in the rubble of his home, destroyed during Israel's offensive in Gaza.

While in the United States, citizens are preparing to usher in the 44th President with a gala inauguration, in Gaza, the rubble is just beginning to be sifted. More bodies will appear beneath the broken buildings.

Of the dead, 159, or 12.2%, were children.

The assessment of the damage at $1.9 billion is up from a $1.4 billion assessment on January 14, the 19th day of fighting. That is a 35.7% increase in assessed damage in the final days of the war. This could either represent a far greater amount of damage done in the last days of the war, or, more likely, a more complete survey of the damage inflicted which could only be accomplished once people had more of a chance to walk around in safety to inspect all of the buildings and infrastructure.

The estimated $1.9 billion in damage suffered in 22 days accounts for 38% of the Gaza Strip’s GDP. Presuming, of course, that its GDP for 2009 does not collapse given the international banking crisis, the 85% decline in the economy during the conduct of the war, and the consequent sufferance of the economy thereafter given the physical devastation.

The one-upsmanship and tit-for-tat in the propaganda machine continues. Both sides refused to agree to a cease fire with each other. Yet both independently and unilaterally declared a cease fire. Predictably, both sides are now claiming victory. Yet it is difficult for the ordinary Palestinian to consider their ruins and dead as “victorious” in any sense but Pyrrhic.

Consider supporting an aid agency of your choice committed to the Gaza crisis, such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC) or Save the Children.

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