The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were to find a network of Hamas tunnels, hundreds of meters long and partly running under the headquarters of the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Israel Kac on Saturday called on the head of the agency to step down.
The tunnel, which is directly under the UNRWA headquarters, is 700 meters long and 18 meters underground, according to the Israeli military. There are side tunnels branching off from it, containing various rooms. There is, among others: an office room with steel safes that had been opened and emptied. There is also a tiled toilet. One large chamber housed computer servers, and another contained stacks of industrial batteries.
“They commanded most of the fighting from here.”
– This is one of the main intelligence commands of Hamas, from here they commanded most of the fighting – said one of the Israeli soldiers who showed journalists around the tunnels. In his opinion, Hamas evacuated from there in the face of the Israeli attack, preemptively cutting off communication cables that also ran through the floor of the basement of the UNRWA headquarters.
In response to the Israeli military’s reports, UNRWA said it had left its headquarters in Gaza on October 12, five days after the war began, and therefore “cannot confirm or otherwise comment” on the Israeli findings.
“UNRWA does not have military and security expertise or the ability to conduct military inspections of what is or may be located under its headquarters,” the statement said.
“In the past, whenever a suspicious depression was found near or under the UNRWA headquarters, letters of protest were immediately sent to the parties to the conflict, including both the actual authorities in Gaza and the Israeli authorities,” it stressed.
As the Times of Israel website writes, Israel Kac, Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel dismissed UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini’s claim that he was unaware of the tunnel’s existence as “not only absurd, but also offensive to common sense.”
“His immediate resignation is necessary,” Kac wrote on the X platform.
An investigation has been launched
A dozen or so days ago, Israel accused UNRWA that at least 12 of its employees in the Gaza Strip are in some way related to the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 last year, including: by participating in hostage kidnappings. In response to the allegations, the agency fired nine employees and launched an investigation.
UNRWA was established in 1949 to assist Palestinian refugees in the territory Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian Authority. This is the only agency UN designed to deal only with a single group of refugees, coming from one region of the world and one conflict.
The agency is one of the largest employers in the Gaza Strip, running, among others, network of schools and other centers. She has long been accused by Israel of being sympathetic to Hamas. Israel claimed that terrorist tunnels were being built under the agency’s schools and that teachers were taking part in anti-Israel indoctrination of Palestinian children.
Main photo source: ENEX