1. At the end of March 2016 the Hamas-affiliated Shihab News Agency issued a video showing a Palestinian teacher indoctrinating school children with hatred for Israel and support for an armed struggle against it. The teacher used the letters of the Arabic alphabet as a didactic tool to teach them "the fundamental Palestinian national principles" even before they learn to read.
2. The name of the school is not mentioned in the video, but an ITIC examination (including a comparison between existing pictures and the picture in the video) indicated the video was apparently filmed in the Rudolf Walther School in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, which was constructed with money from a German donor. The school is a complex of three governmental schools under the jurisdiction of the ministry of education in the Gaza Strip, which is a branch of the Palestinian Authority (PA) ministry of education. The complex has an elementary school for boys, an elementary school for girls, and a high school for boys. According to the boys' elementary school Facebook page, its objectives are to educate for"correct values and to inculcate the awareness and concept of a flourishing Islamic homeland" (Facebook page of the Rudolf Walther Boys' Elementary School, March 31, 2016).
Left: Part of the Rudolf Walther School in Deir al-Balah, built with money from a German donor (YouTube 2012). Right: The school as it appears in the video distributed by the Shihab News Agency, where a teacher is shown inculcating the students with anti-Israel hatred and support violence against it (YouTube, March 30, 2016). An ITIC examination reached the conclusion that they were apparently the same school.
Background of the Rudolf Walther Boys' High School Facebook page. At the right is Palestinian Authority logo, indicating the school is under the jurisdiction of the PA's ministry of education.
3. An examination of the Facebook pages of the three wings of the Rudolf Walther School indicates the themes are introduced into both the formal and informal educational system in the school (and in other Palestinian schools). The Palestinian educational system in the Gaza Strip inculcates its students with radical Islamic values and teaches them hatred for Israel. In addition, the children undergo military training in preparation for joining Hamas when they are older. The anti-Israeli brainwashing they receive, as shown in the video, is not exceptional and is reinforced with a variety of military and doctrinal activities carried out in the Rudolf Walther School.
4. The school complex was built with a contribution from a German businessman named Rudolf Walther. Representatives from Germany visited the school in 2012, and during their visit the German flag was flown (See Appendix A). It seems that the school, built with money donated by a German, not only educates its pupils to hatred and violence against Israel in theory, it also provides them with military training to put what they have learned into practice.
Activities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Student Organizations at the Rudolf Walther School
5. On February 17, 2016, the Islamic Bloc, Hamas' student organization, distributed prizes to school children who excelled in their studies (Facebook page of the Rudolf Walther Boys' Elementary School, February 17, 2016) . On February 18, 2015, the PIJ's Islamic League (al-Rabita al-Islamiya) student faction conducted a competitive "cultural activity" for the school (Website of al-Rabita al-Islamiya, February 18, 2016).
Left: The website of the PIJ's Islamic League's article about its competitive "cultural activity" at the Rudolf Walther School (Website of al-Rabita al-Islamiya, February 18, 2016). The site has pictures of Fathi Shqaqi, a PIJ leader who died in a targeted killing, and five PIJ operatives who were killed by the IDF (October 6, 1987). Right: Islamic Bloc awards ceremony for excelling students (Facebook page of the Rudolf Walther Boys' Elementary School, February 17, 2016).
6. The school often hosts clerics and political propagandists to reinforce the students' indoctrination. One of their guest speakers was Sheikh Yassin Abu Khasiwan, who preached a sermon to the students (Facebook page of the Rudolf Walther Boys' Elementary School, March 24, 2016). On February 27, 2016, the school began a week of activities for "the preservation of Islamic values" in daily life in collaboration with Hamas' Islamic Bloc (Facebook page of the Rudolf Walther Boys' Elementary School, February 27, 2016).
7. The Rudolf Walther School hosted Sheikh Ibrahim Darwish, head of the ministry of endowments in the central Gaza Strip. A Facebook page of the Rudolf Walther Boys' Elementary School shows representatives of the administration for political guidance of Hamas' ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip on a visit to the school. They spoke before the high school students. Thus, the "Islamic values" on which the children are educated are based on Hamas' extremist version of Islam, adopted from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Military Training Held by Hamas at the School
8. The Rudolf Walther Boys' High Schoolis on the list issued in January 2014 of schools supervised by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. There are 46 schools on the list where Al-Futuwwa ("youth," "courage") training camps are held in collaboration with the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior (See Appendix B).
9. Al-Futuwwa military training camps were held at the Rudolf Walther School as early as April 2013(and probably afterwards as well). The school produced a video showing students training for fitness, drilling, shooting, and dismantling and assembling weapons. It was uploaded to YouTube on April 12, 2013. Scenes from the video include:
The Battle for Hearts and Minds in the Rudolf Walther School
10. The Rudolf Walther School holds Hamas-inspired activities to deepen the students' hatred for Israel and its symbols. To that end various events are exploited, among them "Land Day." "Land Day" was recently marked at the school with a simulation of IDF soldiers attacking an old Palestinian and threatening Palestinian children (Facebook page of the Rudolf Walther Boys' Elementary School, March 31, 2016).
An Al-Futuwwa troupe from the Rudolf Walther Boys' High School puts on a display at the Mammduh Sidam Girls' School in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on May 5, 2013. One of the photographers stands on an Israeli flag, which has been laid on the floor (Facebook page of the Rudolf Walther Boys' High School, May 8, 2013).