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Briefly

- - Tuesday, March 22, 2011

GAZA STRIP

Hamas protests U.N. plans to teach Holocaust

GAZA CITY | The United Nations has launched a new plan to teach the Holocaust in Gaza schools, drawing fierce condemnation from Gaza's militant Hamas rulers, school teachers - and even the body tasked with peace negotiations with Israel.

If implemented, it would be the first time most Palestinian children learn about Jewish suffering. But the outcry underscores how sensitive the issue is to Palestinians.

"Playing with the education of our children in the Gaza Strip is a red line," Hamas Education Minister Mohammed Asqoul said.

He said Hamas will block attempts to teach the Holocaust "regardless of the price."

The uproar erupted after a U.N. official told a Jordanian daily in February that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the main U.N. agency serving Palestinian refugees, would introduce a short case study about the Holocaust to Gaza students as part of its human rights curriculum.

UNRWA representatives refused to comment on the record, but one official said the agency is committed to introducing the curriculum for the next school year, beginning in September.

He added that officials were hesitating because they feared Hamas would incite loyalists to damage U.N. schools or harm their teachers if they introduce the materials.

SAUDI ARABIA

Municipal elections to be held in April

RIYADH | Saudi Arabia will hold municipal elections next month after a two-year delay that had angered rights activists.

Electoral commission director Abdul-Rahman al-Dahmash said in a statement Tuesday that the voting will be April 23.

The kingdom held its first municipal elections in 2005, the first elections ever held under the absolute monarchy.

Half of the seats are elected while the rest are appointed. The councils have little power, and women are not allowed to run or vote.

GAZA STRIP

4 killed, 13 wounded in Israeli strike

GAZA CITY | Palestinian officials said an Israeli military strike killed four members of a family and wounded 13 others in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after days of rocket fire toward Israel.

Three of those killed and most of the wounded in the late-afternoon explosion at a house east of Gaza City were younger than 16, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia said. He said the fourth person killed was 50.

TV footage showed body parts and shrapnel at the scene of the attack. Hamas said Israeli tank fire hit the house in what would be the deadliest Israeli attack on Gaza in months.

The Israeli military said Palestinian militants had launched mortars against Israel Tuesday and the military shot at the source of the fire.

"Regrettably noncombatants were hurt, this is because Hamas attacks from civilian areas," the military said in a statement.

Israel hit a series of Palestinian militant targets in the Gaza Strip earlier Tuesday, damaging smuggling tunnels and suspected weapons sites. Palestinian officials said 19 people were wounded in those attacks. Palestinians bombarded Israel with dozens of mortars on Saturday in the largest barrage in years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports