A school in Nablus run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) posted a video to its official Facebook page in which a young student called for the victory of Hamas’s “Jihad warriors” in Gaza and evoked Mohammad’s defeat of the Jews at Khaybar, per a new report from the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se).
In the video, several dozen assembled students call out “Amen” after each line recited by the boy, who is flanked by what appears to be an UNRWA school administrator. It also shows students reading a passage from a fifth-grade Islamic Education textbook that incites violence and Jihad against Israel.
The report also documented several examples of teachers at UNRWA schools in Gaza praising the attacks on social media, and found ties between Hamas terrorists and UNRWA schools.At least 14 teachers had taken to social media to praise the massacre, both while the atrocities were still ongoing and weeks later.
Sarah Alderawy, an UNRWA teacher in Gaza, took to Facebook on October 7 to post a video of Hamas terrorists shooting at Israeli cars that day. The video was captioned with a verse from the Quran that read “We will surely come to them with soldiers that they will be powerless to encounter, and we will surely expel them in humiliation, and they will be debased.”
UNRWA teacher Ebrahim Al Azaia posted a video on Facebook of a rocket landing in a parking lot in Israel. He included the caption “What a splendid sight!” Afab Talab, a teacher at an UNRWA school in Gaza, posted on the day of the attacks that they represented the “first real victory” on the way to liberating all of Palestine, along with a video montage of the infiltrations, the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, and Israelis at a party fleeing for their lives.
The report also found that more than 100 Hamas terrorists were confirmed to have graduated from UNRWA schools, and stated that is statistically likely that the majority of the 3,000 terrorists who perpetrated the October 7 massacre attended UNRWA institutions, which make up half of all schools in Gaza. In one terrorist’s car, a diploma from an UNRWA-run school was found.
UNRWA, which has received nearly $1 billion from the US over the past 5 years, and similar amounts from the UK, EU, and others, uses textbooks written by the Palestinian Authority, which have been found to consistently promote Jihad, antisemitism, and suicide attacks against Israelis. The report gave several more examples of this from 2023 textbooks, including excerpts from math and science lessons. In one example, a fourth-grade math problem reads: “The number of martyrs of the First Intifada (the Intifada of Rocks) is 1,392 martyrs, and the number of martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Intifada is 4,673. The number of martyrs in the two intifadas is _________ martyrs.”
Another demonstrates Newton’s Second Law of Physics by displaying an animation of a Palestinian aiming a slingshot at approaching Israeli soldiers, and asks students to identify the forces that affect the projectile after its release from the slingshot and spring. First-graders are taught as part of a grammatical exercise that “Jihad is one of the gates to paradise.”
A chapter discussing the role of women in combat in Islam glorifies a woman who fatally stabbed a Jew as “justly an example of a brave Muslim woman in defense of the Muslims.”
Most graphically, an eighth-grade Arabic textbook contains a story for reading comprehension glorifying suicide attacks against Israeli soldiers. The story praises Palestinian fighters in the battle of Karameh, describing how they “wore explosive belts, thus turning their bodies into fire burning the Zionist tank.” An illustration is shown depicting a Palestinian spraying bullets at Israeli soldiers in a tank. The story then describes how the soldiers’ bodies and body parts became “food for wild animals on land and birds of prey in the sky.”
UNRWA’s history of using educational materials that glorify terrorism
Glorification of terrorism in textbooks used by UNRWA has been reported on for several years. UNRWA’s policy is to use textbooks that are provided by local educational authorities, despite this not being listed as a requirement in the UN’s mandate to the organization. An UNRWA official told The Jerusalem Post in 2020 that the organization’s protocol was to review all educational materials given to its teachers by local educational authorities, but rather than to censor or refuse to use them, to instruct its teachers to simply skip over potentially inciting material.
UNRWA’s chief spokeswoman told Foreign Policy Magazine in 2021 that “there is zero tolerance” in UNRWA schools for “incitement, antisemitism, and discrimination.”
However, UNRWA has itself directly published material containing the glorification of terrorism and antisemitism. An IMPACT-Se report from 2021 found that UNRWA had sent its schools self-study materials for students to use at home during the coronavirus pandemic, which “egregiously violated” UN, UNESCO, and UNRWA’s stated values and standards. The material, which contained the official UNRWA symbol, contained antisemitic material as well as calls for “martyrdom, violence, and Jihad,” per the report.
UNRWA subsequently acknowledged that it had “mistakenly” published inappropriate material for student use, and stated that the issue had been dealt with and that future instances would be prevented through a rigorous review process. However, a July 2022 report by IMPACT-se found that self-published material from UNRWA continued to encourage “jihad, violence, and martyrdom,” as well as “antisemitism, conflict discourse, hate, andintolerance.”
Former US president Donald Trump cut off all American funding for UNRWA in 2018, drawing outcry from Palestinian rights advocates. President Joe Biden restored the US’s relationship with the organization in 2021, with the US having sent nearly $750 million to the organization over the past three years.