Israel has slammed a UNESCO decision to endow a science chair at a university in Gaza which is a Hamas stronghold involved in weapons production and storage, terrorist training and vile anti-Israel and antisemitic indoctrination.
A spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said of the proposed Chair in Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the Islamic University of Gaza:
Scientists and Academics at the University double as Hamas technocrats.
The Islamic University serves as an employment program and intellectual retreat for Hamas leaders.
The University conducts lectures on Hamas’ radical ideology and concentrates on hostility to Israel;
Hamas uses Gaza University laboratories to develop and produce explosives and rockets and has even run a course on explosive making.
The university is a warehouse for weapons and a venue for secret meetings of military leaders.
Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan said of the endowment:
This is an institution that assists terror and has been involved in terror in the past… We don’t think it was proper to give a chair with such lack of caution, without even checking the institution first.
In February 2007, before Hamas’ bloody coup in Gaza, Ynet reported on a Palestinian Authority (PA) security raid on the university, where it was believed captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was being held captive:
Palestinian officials have labeled the university a “sanctuary for wanted men” and they note that Hamas mastermind Yahya Ayyash fled from the West Bank to Gaza in 1995 and hid in the Islamic University for several months during the time he was being pursued by Israeli forces for his role in numerous suicide bombings in the 90’s.
Ayyash and other wanted Hamas members took advantage of the fact that none but Hamas loyalists set foot in the university.
That changed last Thursday when troops from Fatah’s Force 17 raided the university campus, confiscating some 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, hundreds of RPG launchers and massive amounts of ammunition.
Fatah troops also uncovered a tunnel opening leading all the way to the Palestinian Police headquarters in Gaza City. Estimates suggest Hamas had intended to fill the tunnel with explosives and destroy the police building.
Palestinian sources say that during the raid forces also tried to find any clues which may lead them to the location of Shalit.
Ynet had earlier reported that six Iranian citizens plus an Iranian general who supervised the manufacturing weapons and explosives for Hamas were picked up in the PA raid.
During the 2009 Gaza war, Israel bombed a section of the university it believed housed laboratories for rocket and bomb production.
As recently as May, Dr. Subhi al-Yaziji, Dean of Koranic Studies at the Islamic University of Gaza expressed a desire to see the Vatican and Spain become Islamised and a part of a future Caliphate.
In March 2009, Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV broadcast a play that was staged at the Islamic University in Gaza City which claimed that Jews drink and wash their hands in the blood of Arabs and Muslims as part of their religious rituals.
The endowment follows UNESCO’s controversial assent last month to a PA petition for an emergency listing of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as a World Heritage site.
UNESCO’s own independent experts recommended declining the PA request because it was unprofessional and did not satisfy the criteria for emergency listing (See AIJAC’s post on the issue here).
Despite the September 2011 bid by the PA for UN Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state failing, the following month UNESCO’s committee voted to accept Palestine as a sovereign state.
This prompted the US Congress to withhold its funding to UNESCO, which amounts to 22% of the agency’s annual budget. Canada backed Congress’ move and withdrew its annual US$10 million UNESCO funding too.
Interestingly enough, the same week that the Gaza chair was announced, Saudi Arabia donated US$20 million to UNESCO.
Israeli Foreign Ministry sources blamed UNESCO Secretary-General Irina Bokova’s bid to win a second term for the Gaza endowment: “Bokova wants to be elected at any price…Third world states have a majority in UNESCO so she’s fawning on the Arabs to ensure her reelection”.
It is especially ironic that Gaza’s Hamas-affiliated university received the endowment, considering the vehement opposition voiced by Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ Gaza PM, for the PA’s UN statehood campaign. The endowment is, therefore, essentially a free gift for Hamas, which rejects peace with Israel, and a rebuke to the PA.
As Haaretz‘s Barak Ravid wrote: “Israel was especially furious that the first Palestinian university UNESCO chose to cooperate with was the IUG, rather than other universities in the Palestinian Authority, such as Al-Quds or Birzeit.