Hamas University Grooms Hebrew Teachers; Teachers Are Needed as Language Is Gradually Introduced in High Schools, Leaders Say

By Hadid, Diaa | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 13, 2013 | Go to article overview

Hamas University Grooms Hebrew Teachers; Teachers Are Needed as Language Is Gradually Introduced in High Schools, Leaders Say


Hadid, Diaa, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip * Hamas' flagship university in Gaza has a new diploma on offer Hebrew, the official language of its arch-foe Israel.

Gaza's Hamas rulers say they want to produce qualified teachers as the government gradually introduces Hebrew studies in its high schools. The aim is simple: It wants Palestinians in Gaza to learn their enemy's language.

"As Jews are occupying our lands, we have to understand their language," said Education Ministry official Somayia Nakhala.

There are 19 students enrolled in the first one-year Hebrew diploma course offered at the Islamic University in Gaza City, a stronghold of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007.

Hamas does not recognize Israel, is officially pledged to its destruction and has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, rocket strikes and other attacks.

Officials hope graduates will become Hebrew teachers. Hamas has already begun offering Hebrew studies as an elective to ninth graders in 16 schools, and plans to expand the program to dozens of other schools in the coming months.

Israel occupied Gaza for 38 years after capturing it, along with the West Bank and east Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war. Since withdrawing its settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005, Israel has fought two wars against Hamas and restricts access to the territory by air, land and sea.

The coastal strip still relies on Israeli-run crossings for most consumer goods, and Gaza patients must receive special permits to reach medical care in Israel or the West Bank.

Students need to "understand what's going on, like wars, medical treatment in Israel, in the West Bank," said the Education Ministry's Nakhala.

There is no shortage of Hebrew speakers in Gaza, at least among older residents. For years, Gaza Palestinians entered Israel to work in restaurants, construction and other menial jobs. …

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