Islamic University of Gaza Controversy
In 2012, UNESCO decided to establish a chair at the Islamic University of Gaza in the field of astronomy, astrophysics, and space sciences, fueling much controversy and criticism. Israel's Foreign Ministry expressed shock and criticized the move, and stated that the university supports Hamas (which Israel and other countries designate as a terrorist organization) and houses bomb laboratories for Hamas. The ministry called the university "a known greenhouse and breeding ground for Hamas terrorist."
The university has been linked to Hamas in the past. However, the university head, Kamalain Shaath, defended UNESCO, stating that "The Islamic University is a purely academic university that is interested only in education and its development." . Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan planned to submit a letter of protest with information about the university's ties to Hamas, especially angry that this was the first Palestinian university that UNESCO chose to cooperate with. A senior Foreign Ministry official stated, "Before UNESCO gave a chair to the Technion and the Interdisciplinary Center they checked things with a magnifying glass. In Gaza no one checked." The Jewish organization B'nai B'rith criticized the move as well. B'nai B'rith International President Allan Jacobs said, “To so strongly associate an organization meant to promote peaceful goals with a terrorist organization is yet another contributor to the world body’s tarnished reputation in the international community."
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