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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Hamas vs. UNRWA

From Reuters:

Thousands of Gaza teachers quit classes Wednesday to protest at a U.N. refugee agency's suspension of a Palestinian staffer, raising tension between UNRWA and Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers.

The Local Staff Union, a pro-Hamas body, called for a general strike Wednesday, the second such action in a week, to protest at UNRWA's suspension of the head of the union, Suhail Al-Hindi. Hamas sources said the U.N. agency had accused Hindi of meeting with Hamas political officials.

Buses took some 7,000 teachers employed at UNRWA-run schools to U.N. headquarters in Gaza city where they held a sit-in, calling for an end to "UNRWA political punishment of employees."

"Death rather than humiliation" read a banner held by striking teachers. "Deception, lying and hypocrisy have become the core values of UNRWA," read another.

The strike affected all of UNRWA's 243 schools in Gaza.

Hindi told the teachers he would stand against "oppression and injustice" but added that Palestinians saw UNRWA as a symbol of the cause of refugees and that its role should be preserved "until the Israeli occupation is removed."

Hamas lawmakers often criticize UNRWA's education policies and some accuse it of trying to teach material that encourages normalization with Israel or educate pupils about the Holocaust.

UNRWA denies this is part of its curriculum.
Islam Online writes:

Palestinian political analysts described the conflicts taking place between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and Hamas as a “hidden war” between the two. This conflict has been taking place for over five years with regards to who has authority to manage Gaza’s affairs.

The conflicts between Hamas and UNRWA never seem to subside; whenever the tension between the two over an issue ends, another begins.

...UNRWA media advisor Adnan abu Hasneh denied Hamas’ accusations. He said during his speech with Islam Online that UNRWA is offended by the repeated accusations made by Hamas, adding: “the decision to terminate the union chairman was due to his participation in a political activity, which is against UN laws that ban its workers from engaging in political activities…This applies to everyone with no exceptions.”
The rhetoric increased at today's rally, as the terminated union head said that UNRWA is pushing its own agenda and is engaging in "intellectual terrorism" fro creating a curriculum not to Hamas' liking. He also said that UNRWA didn't protest the Palmer report.

A Hamas-oriented columnist flatly stated that UNRWA is a tool of the CIA and Mossad.

Meanwhile, the official WAFA news agency of the PA published UNRWA's press release without identifying it as such.

This seems more serious than the usual bickering between UNRWA and the people it pretends to help. If UNRWA caves to Hamas demands and allows its teachers to openly associate with terrorists, it will lose all of its US funding (and perhaps more.) But if it holds its ground the Hamas-led union will cripple it.

Hey, maybe it will be forced to leave Gaza. UNRWA has no business existing in the territories, and the care of Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank should properly be done by their leaders. UNRWA's being a crutch allows Hamas to spend more on weapons and less on medicine, food and education.