‘You knew’: Israel accuses UNRWA chief after Hamas tunnel discovered beneath its HQ

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‘You knew’: Israel accuses UNRWA chief after Hamas tunnel discovered beneath its HQ

Israel calls on UNRWA chief Lazzarini to resign after denying any knowledge of the tunnel.

Tunnel under UNRAWA HQ in Gaza. Courtesy: IDF
Tunnel under UNRAWA HQ in Gaza. Courtesy: IDF

The Israeli army has discovered a vast Hamas tunnel under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees headquarter in Gaza. 

The tunnel, which is 18 metre deep and 700 metre long, was discovered during an IDF operation in northern Gaza were approximately 120 Hamas terrorists were killed and 20 terrorist infrastructure sites were destroyed as part of the operation, according to the army.

The soldiers found a tunnel shaft near an UNRWA school, which led to an underground terror tunnel that served as a “significant asset of Hamas’ military intelligence and passed under the building that serves as UNRWA’s main headquarters in the Gaza Strip.”

The army said a wide variety of intelligence assets were seized during the operation while electrical infrastructure was found inside the tunnel connected to UNRWA’s main headquarters. The army accused UNRWA’s facilities of supplying the tunnel with electricity.

Forces also found “large quantities of weapons were found inside the rooms of the building, including rifles, ammunition, grenades and explosives. Intelligence and documents discovered in the offices of UNRWA officials confirmed that the offices had in fact also been used by Hamas terrorists.”

UNRWA chief head Philippe Lazzarini denied knowing about the tunnel following the discovery, saying Israel had not “informed UNRWA officially about the alleged tunnel.”

“We have not used that compound since we left it nor are we aware of any activity that may have taken place there. UNRWA is a human development and humanitarian organisation that does not have the military and security expertise nor the capacity to undertake military inspections of what is or might be under its premises,” he added.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories quickly dismissed Lazzarini’s denial, saying: “Oh, you knew. Digging a tunnel takes longer than 4 months. We invited senior UN officials to see, and during past meetings with you and other UN officials, we stated Hamas’s use of UNRWA’s headquarters.”

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz later called on the Lazzarini to get fired, calling his alleged unawareness “not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative. The exposure of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters’ deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action.”

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