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.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.)
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.
No one from the United Nations attended the funeral or has paid their respects to the family, relatives said, adding that Qiq's widow and five children had heard nothing about a pension.
Spokesman Christopher Gunness said UNRWA, which spelled its teacher's surname al-Geeg, was looking into the matter.
The Israeli army said its April 30 attack at Rafah, close to the Egyptian border, hit a workshop used for making rockets and other improvised weaponry. An Israeli intelligence source told Reuters that Qiq was involved in developing rockets and mortars.At least Reuters printed enough to prove pretty conclusively that the relatives were lying about not knowing that he was an Islamic Jihad member. How many 33-year old teachers would decorate their houses with heroic Islamic Jihad posters? They know what to say to the press, and they are ever-mindful of the UNRWA pension.
Yet Qiq, a physics graduate with eight years' experience of teaching at UNRWA schools, was also described by colleagues as a rising star in education. Relatives said he was promoted to run the school last year, with the title of deputy headmaster.
Israel has long alleged that militants use UNRWA vehicles and facilities. The United Nations has denied those charges, although some UNRWA employees have had prominent political roles in groups like Hamas -- such as teacher Saeed Seyam, who was interior minister in the Hamas-led government elected in 2006.
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."
At the bombed-out workshop 3 km (2 miles) from the school, damaged cars can be seen through now-locked gates. A 35-year-old man who gave his name as Abu Mohammed said he had found Qiq dying inside after helicopters fired a missile at the building.
"He was still alive, but he died shortly after," he said.
Relatives recalled with pride that Qiq had met John Ging, UNRWA's Gaza operations director. But while fellow teachers had come to pay their respects, they saw no U.N. representative.
Qiq's sister said his wife and five children were worried by the lack of news on any pension payment: "Awad did a lot for UNRWA," she said. "The family hoped UNRWA would support them."