The Teacher Who Was a Bombmaker


Last week we reported on an Islamic Jihad rocket-maker who was also a UNRWA employee.

Now, Reuters has an “exclusive”:

By day, Awad al-Qiq was a respected science teacher and headmaster at a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip. By night, Palestinian militants say, he built rockets for Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli air strike that killed the 33-year-old last week also laid bare his apparent double life and embarrassed a U.N. agency which has long had to rebuff Israeli accusations that it has aided and abetted guerrillas fighting the Jewish state.

In interviews with Reuters, students and colleagues, as well as U.N. officials, denied any knowledge of Qiq’s work with explosives. And his family denied he had any militant links at all, despite a profusion of Islamic Jihad posters at his home.

But militant leaders allied to the enclave’s ruling Hamas group hailed him as a martyr who led Islamic Jihad’s “engineering unit” — its bomb makers. They fired a salvo of improvised rockets into Israel in response to his death.

Qiq’s body was wrapped in an Islamic Jihad flag at his funeral, pictorial posters in his honour still bedeck his family home this week, and a handwritten notice posted on the metal gate at the entrance to the school declared that Qiq, “the chief leader of the engineering unit”, would now find “paradise”.

That poster was removed soon after Reuters visited the Rafah Prep Boys School, run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees. Staff there said on Monday that UNRWA officials had told them not to discuss Qiq’s activities.

Spokesman Christopher Gunness said UNRWA, which spelled its teacher’s surname al-Geeg, was looking into the matter.

It is amazing that the UNRWA cannot confirm whether a person was an employee five days after the fact. (My email to them asking for confirmation has not been answered.) And it is obvious that this poster at the school was there for a number of days until reporters started asking questions.

Here is where Reuters shows how it takes Palestinian Arab lies at face value:

While many in Gaza are open about political allegiances, the threat of the kind of Israeli action that cost him his life on April 30 meant Qiq’s double role was kept very secret indeed.

Surrounded by Islamic Jihad mourning posters at the family home, his sister Naima insisted: “He’s only a teacher and head of the school. School was his life. He had no time to work with Islamic Jihad.” Other family members nodded in agreement.

At the school, a 17-year-old who gave his name as Shadi read a poster for his former teacher and said simply: “Nobody knew.”

How many 33-year old teachers would decorate their houses with heroic Islamic Jihad posters? His family knows what to say to the press, and they are ever-mindful of the UNRWA pension.

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