Strikes Spread Across Lebanon, UNRWA Teachers Pull Children Out of School For Mass Rallies
GENEVA, March 23, 2023 — The Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad issued a statement denouncing UNRWA, the UN agency that runs schools for Palestinians, after its commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini ordered his Lebanon director to suspend a teacher for inciting terrorism on social media, one of 133 UNRWA staff exposed in a joint report last week by UN Watch and IMPACT-se.
UNRWA’s suspension of teacher Riyad Mustafa Nimr was “unacceptable” and “condemned by all sectors of the Palestinian people,” said Mr. Jihad Muhammad, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad in Lebanon, who blasted UN Watch’s report and American funding requirements of zero tolerance for incitement.
“What happened confirms the complete bias by those in favor of the Zionist entity, to put pressure on the Palestinian refugees to accept any of the solutions offered to them, including resettlement or an alternative homeland, and giving up the right of return,” said Muhammad.
Earlier this week, Hamas also condemned UNRWA for “repressive behavior that contradicts the human right to freedom, thinking and expression.”
The Hamas statement blasted “UNRWA’s reliance on UN Watch” which it said “implements Zionist policies and has hostile stances towards the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Hamas called on UNRWA to “quickly reverse this unjust decision, to restore the teacher Mustafa to his work immediately, and to stop this policy which is contrary to the most basic human rights.”
BREAKING: Outraged UNRWA staff pull students out of class for 3-day strike against agency for suspending teacher who promoted murder of Jews (⬇️).
Hamas blasts UNRWA for acting on our 100-page joint report: 📜https://t.co/gu7w3pi8DU
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) March 22, 2023
Uproar in Lebanon as UNRWA Staff Pull Students Out of School for Mass Protests
Outraged staff at UNRWA pulled children out of schools in Lebanon to protest the suspension of a teacher accused of endorsing terrorism on social media. (Click here to see videos of mass rallies.)
Riyad Nimr Mustafa was suspended with pay last week following the publication of a 100-page investigative report by IMPACT-SE and UN Watch on incitement to hatred and violence in UNRWA schools.
Mustafa, one of 133 UNRWA teachers and staff identified in the report for incitement on social media, endorsed a 2014 terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in which Palestinians used axes to brutally murder Jewish worshippers. He also venerated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Ibrahim Nabulsi as a “martyr” and the “noblest of souls.”
Nabulsi’s cell had been responsible for attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank, including an attack on Joseph’s Tomb, an ancient Jewish holy site in Nablus. Mustafa posted the video of Nabulsi’s funeral which glorified “martyrs who have commanded us to follow the path they had taken.” A call at the funeral for more suicide missions by Nabulsi’s mother was in a rare move condemned by Nablus mayor Ibrahim Ramadan.
UNRWA, which is largely funded by contributions from the US, Canada, the European Commission, and EU member states, has repeatedly come under fire for educational content which promotes antisemitism, encourages violence, and celebrates terrorist attacks.
The report published last week detailed alleged violations of UNRWA’s neutrality commitments in educational content, and profiled ten teachers whose online activity showed their support for terrorism and antisemitism.
In a statement issued in response to the report, UNRWA slammed its authors for an “attempt to sensationalize and overstate” the problem — but the agency announced that it had briefed donor states on its launch of an investigation into seven out of the ten alleged perpetrators.
In 2022, UNRWA suspended six teachers for similar cases of incitement.
In response to last week’s suspension of Mustafa, a general strike was called in Nahr al-Bared, the northern Lebanese UNRWA camp where he is a teacher. The strike has spread to at least one other UNRWA facility in the region.
Click here for links to photos, videos, statements and social media campaigns by UNRWA staff and Palestinian factions expressing outrage over Mustafa’s suspension.