Hamas Upset with Textbooks that Recognize 'Zionists'

Hamas takes issue with new books used by UNRWA that convince students "to accept the Zionist enemies."

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Elad Benari,

Children in Gaza
Children in Gaza
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Hamas has taken issue with new textbooks introduced by the UN’s relief agency and which recognize “the Zionists.”

The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported on Tuesday that Hamas’s Ministry of Education in Gaza has accused UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) of including "inappropriate" new chapters in the curriculum in local schools.

"We denounce the publication and distribution of syllabus in UNRWA-run schools without the approval of the ministry of education and higher education," the ministry said in a statement quoted by Ma’an.

The statement added that such curricula "do not fit the culture of our Palestinian society, and its meant to brainwash Palestinian students and convince them to accept the Zionist enemies while they continue to kill our people, carry out more oppressive procedures, Judaize the holy city (Jerusalem) and build the apartheid wall."

An UNRWA spokesman denied the accusations and told Ma’an that the agency "would never adopt curricula that violate customs and traditions of the Palestinian people."

The spokesman, Adnan Abu Hasnah, added that lesson plans which addressed human rights were approved after consultations with “all components of the Palestinian people.”

"There is nothing in the curricula that violates the Palestinian people's traditions and customs," he said.

The Ministry of Education highlighted that it sent a "strongly-worded" message to the administration of UNRWA demanding that the agency stops teaching "that curricula."

UNRWA runs schools in Gaza in which close to half of the 463,000 pupils in the region study. These schools are separate from the ones run by Hamas, which violently seized control of the area in 2007.

Several months ago, Gaza’s Hamas government said it had added studies to encourage "resistance to Israel" to curriculum in local public schools.

Hamas’s education minister said at the time the courses were intended to "strengthen Palestinian rights, update programs and add studies on human rights." They were intended to instill "faith in the role of the resistance to win rights and to raise awareness of the importance of effective preparations to face the enemy," he said.

The organization is also offering classes in Hebrew in its Gaza schools. These courses are intended to “teach the language of the enemy.”

Hamas’s Education Ministry has chosen to use photocopied worksheets for these courses, rather than purchasing texts from the abhorred “Zionist enemy.”