The Defense Ministry has rejected a UN request to establish a number of new
schools in the Gaza Strip, because, it says, they were supposed to be built on
land provided by Hamas and next to a Hamas military installation.
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
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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
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
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
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,
acknowledging that Hamas had allocated the land for the schools.
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
IDF sources said that the building functioned as a Hamas base
during Operation Cast Lead and continued to serve as a base
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
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.
“Israel attaches a lot
of importance to the UNRWA education system in Gaza and will continue to
cooperate and assist as much as possible in helping UNRWA,” one senior official
said. “But we will not help Hamas use schools and turn the people of Gaza into
The defense source referred to an explosion on Wednesday
in the southern Gaza town of Rafah that injured five children and two women. The
explosion went off inside a home where a Hamas laboratory manufactures weaponry,
located adjacent to a school.