UNRWA Schools in Gaza Close, Sparking Protests

August 24, 2015  

A strike by teachers and personnel in Gaza kept more than 200,000 children from returning to school for the new term Monday, as the UN agency that employs them struggles financially.

Several thousand teachers, assistants and administrative personnel protested in front of the headquarters of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. 

The UNRWA is the body tasked with “Palestinian refugees,” and recently admitted it’s going bankrupt and will have to close schools.

Last month, Hamas claimed that UNRWA is “giving up its role” of providing services to “refugees,” a status designated to the Arabs who left Israel in the 1948 War of Independence as well as their now roughly five million descendants. That hereditary “Palestinian refugee” status operates in contradiction to all other refugees in the world, who are all handled by the UNHRC.

The terror group responded by then threatening the UN group with violence.

The union for UNRWA staff in Gaza called for the protest with some employees at risk of losing jobs because of a lack of financing.

Dozens of schools were damaged and affected by last summer’s war between Palestinian terrorists and Israel – due, at least in part, to the fact that Hamas hid rocket arsenals in UNRWA schools. 

UNRWA, mainly financed by state members of the United Nations, has struggled with money shortages for years.

The agency had raised the possibility of delaying the start of the new school term and laying off some staff for a year due to a lack of contributions from international donors.

New financial support allowed UNRWA to freeze those plans, but its employees are demanding that they be dropped entirely.

Meanwhile, Hamas threatened violence against the organization two weeks ago in the event of school closures, calling education a “red line.” 

AFP contributed to this report. 

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