Gaza UNRWA 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Foreign Ministry is hitting back at what it is calling a series of biased
and false United Nations reports issued recently about the Gaza Strip, with
plans to submit an official report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in
the coming days.
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The Israeli report, prepared by the Civil Affairs
Department in the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the
Territories (COGAT), is aimed at UNRWA, the UN body that assists Palestinian
refugees in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The COGAT report, obtained
exclusively on Thursday by The Jerusalem Post
, was prompted by a report
published in mid-May by Kishore Singh, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right
to Education, in which it cited a claim by UNRWA that “a minimum of 100 new
schools are required in order to meet the enrollment demands of the refugee
children of Gaza and to return its schools to a single-shift system.”
addition, Singh’s report cites another UNRWA claim that it had only received
approval to build eight new schools in the Gaza Strip. The UN report blames
Israel’s so-called blockade, imposed in 2007 and later eased up significantly
following the Turkish flotilla last summer, as the cause for the difficult
education system in Gaza.
The COGAT report, which a senior Foreign
Ministry officials told the Post
on Thursday would be submitted to the UN Human
Rights Council – refutes both claims. Firstly it says that UNRWA has never
provided the IDF with a list of 100 schools that it would like to build in the
According to the Israeli report, head of COGAT Maj.- Gen.
Eitan Dangot met months ago with UNRWA and a representative of the UN
Secretary General at his own initiative and asked to work jointly on a
broad education plan for the Gaza Strip.
The COGAT report claims that
Israel heard the claim regarding the schools for the first time from the media
and that an official and detailed request was never received.
attempt to draw a connection between UNRWA’s difficulty in building 100 new
schools and the blockade is misleading and distortive, and makes connections
that have nothing to do with each other,” says the report.
official COGAT records obtained by the Post
since the change in Israeli policy
vis-à-vis the Gaza blockade in June, 2010, Israel has approved a total of 41
educational projects, 32 of them for UNRWA. Twentyfour of the 32 approved UNRWA
projects were for new schools and another three approvals were granted for the
expansion of existing schools According to the report, UNRWA has only begun
bringing in building supplies for 11 of the schools, even though it has approval
to do so for another 13.
The report provides a detailed list of the
schools approved, with a breakdown of which ones are under construction and
which ones are not.
The Heker Jama school in Dir Al-Balah, for example,
received COGAT’s approval on January 6 but still has not brought building
material into the Gaza Strip, even though it has approval to do so. Another
school in Tel Sultan received COGAT approval on February 16 but UNRWA has not
yet acted on the project.
In related news, the Foreign Ministry has
conducted an analysis of another UNRWA report that came out earlier this week
called “Gaza Blockade Anniversary Report,” which claims that unemployment in the
second half of 2010 reached 45.2 percent in the Gaza Strip.
Ministry review questions why the refugee population in Gaza, which is dealt
with by UNRWA, saw a rise in unemployment of 4.07 percent while the non-refugee
population saw a drop in unemployment by close to 9 percent.
question should be asked why refugees which rely on UNRWA and donor nations are
not gaining from the overall economic growth and are blocked from the job
market, while the general population in Gaza is experiencing a genuine
improvement,” the Foreign Ministry official who analyzed the UNRWA report
In response to the claims raised by COGAT in its report, UNRWA
Spokesman Chris Gunness said that the relief agency had discussed its plan with
COGAT in the past. He also said that projects were delayed since donors did not
want to give funds after previous donations were not used for past projects due
to what he called Israel’s refusal to approved projects presented years ago.