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Union: Strike at Gaza UNRWA schools to last until Thursday

Oct. 30, 2011 10:46 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 31, 2011 7:05 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- UN-run schools in the Gaza Strip went on strike on Sunday, with protests planned to last until Thursday, a staff union said.

“The strike will affect all departments if the UN administration does not respond to the staff union's demands," Yousef Hamdouna, secretary of the Local Staff Union said.

The strike is in protest against UNRWA's suspension of the head of the union, Suhail al-Hindi. Hamas sources said the UN agency had accused al-Hindi of meeting with Hamas political officials.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness called for the union to stop the strike action.

"UNRWA appeals to the staff union in Gaza not to drag some 219,000 innocent children into their escalating campaign of industrial action," he said in a statement received by Ma'an.

"The children of Gaza, living under the Israeli blockade and the constant threat of military action have suffered enough. This industrial action compounds their collective punishment.

"Along with the parents of Gaza and all those who believe in a dignified future for the next generation, we appeal to the union to call off the strike which is damaging the education of our children in 243 UNRWA schools."

In early October, thousands of teachers protested at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City over the dismissal of Suhail al-Hindi.

UNRWA was founded in 1949 to serve refugees in Gaza, the West Bank and neighboring Arab countries after hundreds of thousands were displaced from Palestine when Israel was created. The agency's most recent mandate extends to June 30, 2014.
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