Hamas blocks UN textbooks in Gaza because they focus too much on ‘peaceful’ conflict resolution.
Ibrahim Barzak :
Associated Press : February 13 2014
authorities have blocked a UN refugee agency from introducing textbooks
promoting human rights into local schools, saying it ignores Palestinian
cultural mores and focuses too heavily on "peaceful" means of
Motesem al-Minawi, spokesman
for the Hamas-run Education Ministry, said that the government believes the
curriculum does not match the "ideology and philosophy" of the local
population. He said the textbooks, used in grades 7 through 9, did not
sufficiently address Palestinian suffering and did not acknowledge their right
to battle Israel. "There is a tremendous focus on the peaceful resistance
as the only tool to achieve freedom and independence," he said.
Hamas, which has
killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks, says that
armed resistance is a key component of its struggle against Israel.
The group also
objected to the books’ inclusion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -
a document approved by the UN General Assembly in 1948 that recognizes the
equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family. Hamas believes
that certain parts of the declaration violate Islamic law, including the right
of people of different faiths to marry and the right to change one’s religion.
government officials had met with UNRWA officials and offered to form a joint
committee to revise the book. Adnan Abu Hassna, a local UNRWA spokesman,
confirmed that the curriculum had been suspended while the sides work out their
The spat is just the
latest in a line of disagreements between Hamas and UNRWA. The United Nations
Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA, assists Palestinian refugees and their
descendants throughout the region. In Gaza, the agency runs some 245 schools serving
more than 232,000 students plus dozens of medical clinics and it distributes
food to many of the territory’s 1.7 million residents.
But Hamas has
frequently squabbled with UNRWA in a rivalry for the hearts and minds of Gaza’s
people. Hamas has pressed the UN not to organize mixed folkloric dancing for
boys and girls; to keep Holocaust education out of its curriculum and it has
used harsh rhetoric against previous senior UN officials. Last year, UNRWA
cancelled its annual Gaza marathon after Hamas banned women from participating.