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Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Monday, 31 August 2009 15:10 UK

Hamas condemns Holocaust lessons

Palestinian schoolchildren outside a UN school in Gaza City, 31 August
The UN teaches some 200,000 children in the Gaza Strip

Gaza's ruling Islamist movement Hamas has resisted suggestions that Palestinian children should be taught about the Holocaust in UN-run schools.

The head of its education committee in Gaza, Abdul Rahman el-Jamal, told the BBC that the Holocaust was a "big lie".

He said that to teach it would be to "grant a big favour" to Israel, which has been fighting Hamas for years.

The UN, which runs most Gazan schools, recently asked local groups whether the Holocaust should be taught.

It uses local textbooks and, in Gaza, that means using material from neighbouring Egypt, the BBC's Tim Franks reports.

But over the past seven years the UN has added its own coursework about human rights.

Mr Jamal told the BBC that the UN should, instead, teach about the Naqba, the term Palestinians use to describe the establishment of the state of Israel and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

A spokesman for the UN said that no final decision on this year's curriculum had yet been made. Some 200,000 children are taught in schools run through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

During the Holocaust, Nazi Germany murdered some six million Jews.

However, the event's significance is often disputed in parts of the Middle East where Israel is seen as the enemy and the Holocaust is seen as a tool used by Israel to justify its actions.



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