The Guardian
December 20, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas, the Islamist movement ruling the Gaza strip, has asked the United Nations to stop exposing Palestinian children to the Holocaust during trips organised for outstanding students from Gaza, and instead concentrate on Palestinian victims.

"The UNRWA [the agency for Palestinian refugees] has to stop the visits they do, where they teach the Holocaust and where they promote solidarity with Jewish suffering created by the Nazis," said a statement from the department for refugee issues.

Hamas also said that "the minds of the children are not big enough to understand the suffering of all the victims around the world", adding that "the Palestinian suffering caused by the Jewish occupiers is enough of an example". In the statement, Hamas suggested that instead of organising trips to the US, the UN should take the Gazan children to Vietnam, the US prison in Guantánamo Bay or Abu Ghraib detention facility in Iraq.

UNRWA refused today to comment on Hamas's statement.

Human rights are part of the curriculum at UNRWA schools, where there are about half a million pupils from Palestinian refugee families. The classes are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Students who obtain outstanding marks may travel to several countries to learn more about the subject. About 50 children have participated in past human rights trips. In one of the journeys, the pupils travelled to South Africa, where they met Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela. In another, they attended the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in the Hague.

These trips are a rare opportunity for the Gazan children to travel. For the past four years, Israel has blocked people and goods from moving into and out of Gaza.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017