Islamic University in Gaza
Jerusalem – Sona al-Deak
Israel has expressed protest and outrage against a decision by the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) about giving the Islamic University in Gaza a seat and recognising
it as a leading international educational institution, while granting it legitimacy and international support.
On Thursday, the website of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz mentioned that UNESCO, represented by Director Aerina Pokoiua, announced the decision. Israel called the decision a "deepening" of the disagreements with the organisation, as the University is an affiliated institution of armed Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.
The Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, blamed Pokoiua for "not taking full responsibility for the decision", saying the move was aprt of the Director's campaign to clinch the UNESCO presidency in 2013.
Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, said during a meeting with officials from the organisation that the Islamic University was an institution that aided "terrorism" and "‘terrorist acts".
"It’s not fair to grant a seat without checking on the institution first with a magnifying glass," he said.
Barkan is expected to lodge an official complaint with the organisation with alleged proof of Hamas's militant activities.
UNESCO released a statement recognising the University as a developed and important academic institution. An Israeli foreign ministry official said that granting the seat became possible after UNESCO accepted Palestine as a member, which angered Israel and even led the US and Canada to withdraw funding.
Israel claims that the Faculty of Chemical Engineering in the Islamic University is graduating engineers who volunteer in the military wing of Hamas, and help in producing missiles and bombs. The Israeli air force targetted the university during the Cast Lead operation on Gaza, claiming that it contained a laboratory and workshops dedicated to producing missiles and explosive materials.