Israeli military claims to have discovered tunnel under UNWRA offices
The entrance to this tunnel, 700 meters long and located 18 meters underground, was discovered near a school managed by the UN.
The Israeli army and the Shin Bet, the internal security service, claimed on Saturday February 10 to have discovered a tunnel under , the office of the for Palestinian refugees installed in . Military operations in this city in recent weeks have led to the discovery of a “tunnel entrance” near a school managed by the UN humanitarian agency, the two institutions said in a statement.
“The entrance led to an underground terrorist tunnel that was an important Hamas military intelligence asset and passed under the building that serves as UNRWA’s main headquarters in the Gaza Strip.”they added. “Electrical infrastructure” of the tunnel – 700 meters long and located 18 meters underground – “was connected” at the agency’s headquarters, “indicating that UNRWA facilities supplied the tunnel with electricity”according to them.
Photographers from Reuters and AFP were among a group of journalists who were led by the Israeli army into the building and tunnel on Thursday. Documents and a stockpile of weapons within the UN itself “confirmed that the offices had also been used by Hamas terrorists”add the army and the Shin Bet.
UNRWA defends itself
Hamas has dug numerous tunnels in the Gaza Strip over the past ten years, where its fighters hide, according to Israel. In October, a study by the Modern War Institute of the American Academy West Point identified 1,300 tunnels there, for more than 500 km of underground corridors. The UN agency stressed that it had not occupied its headquarters since October 12 – five days after the Hamas attack – and requested the opening of an independent investigation.
On “We have not used this building since we left it and we are not aware of any activity that may have taken place there”, he added. Israel’s accusations “deserve an independent investigation”underlined the head of the UN agency.
In response, the Israeli foreign minister ruled on Saturday “imperative” the immediate resignation of the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. “The prompt resignation” by Philippe Lazzarini “is imperative”said Minister Israel Katz on X.
Suspension of funding
Israel recently accused UNRWA of having had 12 employees, out of its 13,000 in the Gaza Strip, involved in the Hamas attack. The Jewish state also assured last week that it would prove “UNRWA’s links to terrorism”. An internal UN investigation is underway into the employees accused by Israel, from which UNRWA has separated, and the UN secretary-general has appointed an independent commission to assess the “neutrality” of the agency.
In response to Israel’s accusations, a dozen countries, including major donors such as the , the , the and the , announced that they would suspend their funding to UNRWA.