Hamas Blocks U.N. Textbooks Promoting Human Rights, Peace

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -

Gaza’s Hamas rulers have blocked a UN refugee agency from introducing textbooks promoting human rights into local schools, saying it ignores Palestinian cultural mores and focuses too heavily on “peaceful” means of conflict resolution.

Motesem al-Minawi, spokesman for the Hamas-run Education Ministry, said Thursday that the government believes the curriculum does not match the “ideology and philosophy” of the local population.

Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks and has refused to renounce terrorism or join peace talks.

Al-Minawi said government officials had met with UNRWA officials and offered to form a joint committee to revise the book. Adnan Abu Hassna, a local UNRWA spokesman, confirmed that the curriculum had been suspended while the sides work out their differences.

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the agency, said UNRWA has “no plans to change its education programs in Gaza,” though he said the agency would have further discussions with Hamas. He said the curriculum had been developed with educators, parents’ groups, teachers and others.

“We have done our utmost in developing these materials to be sensitive to local values while also being true to the universal values that underpin the work of the United Nations,” he said.