Teachers in Palestine, who are working for the United Nations relief agency UNRWA, have been on strike for 50 days along with other colleagues working for the agency. Many of the teachers are on temporary contracts and have lost their jobs. They are demanding reinstatement and to be given proper contracts, as well as decent pay for UNRWA workers and teachers.

A group of the laid off employees have been on hunger strike for a month, and their families say that they hold the UN authorities responsible for their safety. Some have had to be hospitalised.

Despite the fact that schools have been closed for nearly two months, even hostile commentators agree that there is support for the strikers among local communities. Young people demonstrated in support of the UNRWA workers in Ramallah and were met by riot police.  There were also demonstrations in support of the strikers in Hebron and Bethlehem in the West Bank, and in Gaza.

UNRWA says it has not got enough funds to pay the teachers more and the Palestinian Authority is also underfunded and facing possible strikes from its own employees, including teachers. Moreover the funding which was used to pay the contract teachers had been cut from $40 million to $25 million.

According to reliable sources, the US government gives approximately $3 billion of aid to Israel annually. Israel is the biggest riecipient of US aid and two thirds of the money is for military investment. Meanwhile the UN authority charged with providing schools, clinics and other services to the five million Palestinians, expelled from their homes by Israel and driven into camps, is so underfunded that it cannot afford to pay its employees properly.