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Friday, October 22, 2010

Hamas and UNRWA agree: schoolchildren should be human shields (updated)

From JPost:
The United Nations Relief and Work Agency asked for permission to build several schools in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in southern Gaza City, according to details obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

The request was submitted to the Defense Ministry in line with current Israeli policy to approve international projects in Gaza after they have received the approval of donor nations and the Palestinian Authority.

Since Israel eased the blockade on the Gaza Strip in July, the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has approved 70 international projects – including the renovation of a sewage treatment plant, the construction of 151 housing units and eight new schools.

But when the Defense Ministry received the UNRWA request for the new schools and checked their planned location, defense officials said they were alarmed to discover that the UN had planned to build the schools adjacent to a Hamas military installation.

“We were shocked to see that some of the schools sent for approval were right next to Hamas,” one official told the Post on Thursday.

The Defense Ministry contacted UNRWA and asked if it was aware that Hamas maintained a military installation nearby. The answer the Defense Ministry received was “yes,” according to Israeli officials, with UNRWA acknowledging that Hamas had allocated the land for the schools.

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA, confirmed the details of the report but claimed that the Hamas installation in question was severely damaged by Israel during Operation Cast Lead and questioned whether it still served as a military facility.

IDF sources said that the building functioned as a Hamas base during Operation Cast Lead and continued to serve as a base today.

Gunness said that due to the Defense Ministry’s decision, UNRWA would not be able to build the schools, and therefore thousands of Palestinian children will be educated by Hamas instead of the UN.

“There is an acute shortage of UNRWA schools in that area, and as a result of the shortage more children beyond the 39,000 who are already not receiving a UN education will continue to receive local education instead,” Gunness said. “It is a great pity that we can’t have children in Gaza receive a UN education based on universal values.”

Defense sources said that Israel was committed to the UNRWA education system but that Israel would not allow Hamas to cynically use schools and children in its terrorist war against Israel.
UNRWA'a Gunness doesn't even pretend to be concerned that the UNRWA schools would be in the line of fire if - and when - Hamas uses the adjacent terror bases and Israel responds. Moreover, he doesn't seem concerned that the kids could become victims of one of the regular "work accidents" that occur at Hamas facilities.

And Gunness would be the last person to publicly accuse and embarrass Hamas, telling them that the land they are offering is unacceptable and that the safety of the children is of paramount importance. No, all of UNRWA's demands are from Israel, and Hamas is positioned a wonderful patron of the organization for offering land where the kids could get blown up. (A wonderful patron that happens to attack UNRWA facilities as well.)

If the military installation is damaged and unused, as Gunness implies, then why not convert that into the school?

Gunness and UNRWA are obfuscating, as they do so often.

Some 21 confirmed terrorists were killed in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood during Operation Cast Lead.

UPDATE:
Guess what happened this week in an area that UNRWA built a housing project and schools right next to a Hamas facility in Rafah?

Three UNRWA schools were damaged and 26 were injured, including 17 children, from an explosion at the Hamas training base. And the base seems to have been there when UNRWA built the housing project and three schools that were damaged.

(h/t T34Zakat)