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Slain Senior Hamas Terrorist was Employed by UN

A senior Hamas commander killed in an Israeli airstrike was also a teacher in a United Nations school.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/1/2010, 6:22 PM / Last Update: 8/1/2010, 6:27 PM

Israel news photo

Senior Hamas commander Issa al-Batran was killed Saturday in an Israeli airstrike that followed a Grad rocket attack on the city of Ashkelon. While several news outlets reported details of Batran's past, including previous attempts on his life, they failed to note a major component of Batran's personal life: his day job as a United Nations-employed schoolteacher.

Batran taught at a UN school in Al-Bureij. According to the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency Batran worked in the school at least until January 2009, and possibly beyond that time.

His job as a schoolteacher was mentioned by Maan and other Arab news outlets in 2009, when several members of the Batran family were killed in an airstrike during the counterterror operation Cast Lead. At that time, his senior position in Hamas was not mentioned.

Hamas has vowed to avenge Batran's death.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has faced controversy in the past for its ties to Hamas. In 2004 UNRWA's then-Director Peter Hansen caused a stir when he told a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist, “I am sure there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll. And I don’t see that as a crime.”

In March 2009, Hamas swept the UNRWA union elections, winning 17 out of 27 seats. A short time later, UNRWA's Gaza director, John Ging, called on UN employees in Gaza to play down their affiliation with local terrorist groups or face dismissal.