Israel claims to have found tunnel under UNRWA HQ

Israel said that its forces discovered a tunnel underneath the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza City, British broadsheet The Telegraph reported on February 11. 

The findings come amidst allegations that a dozen employees of the UN relief agency, which has been giving Palestinians much needed aid since 1949 (a year after the Nakba), were involved in Hamas’ shock attack on Israel on October 7. 

The accusations have led to a suspension of aid from global superpowers such as the US, UK and Germany to name a few. Such a move has been seen to be an act of collective punishment against the already-oppressed Palestinian people. 

IDF personnel recently gave a tour of the underground base to reporters. An army general who led the tour, supposedly named Ido, claimed that the office like space, “Is one of the Hamas intelligence units where they commanded most of their combats”. 

It was also reported that the tunnels were found to have posters and stickers bearing the logo of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the Palestinian militants’ military wing. 

In response, the UNRWA said that they were unaware of what was underneath their Gaza headquarters and that all staff had evacuated the area shortly after the Hamas assault on Israel. 

READ: UNRWA says no more cash for Gaza civilians after February

The UN agency’s Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on February 10, “UNRWA did not know what is under its headquarters in Gaza. 

“UNRWA is made aware of reports through the media regarding a tunnel under the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza. 

“UNRWA staff left its headquarters in Gaza City on 12 October following the Israeli evacuation orders and as bombardment intensified in the area. 

“We have not used that compound since we left it nor are we aware of any activity that may have taken place there.” 

Current data shows that the relief agency has 30,000 employees including 13,000 who are based in Gaza, many of whom are refugees themselves. 

Following the mass withdrawal of funding in January, the world body’s Secretary General Antonio Guterres pleaded to the ten countries who stopped donating to reconsider as an ongoing investigation into some of the UNRWA employees is being carried out. 

Guterres added that 9 UNRWA staff had been given the boot for their alleged involvement in the attack on Israel and that anyone on the agency’s books found to have been complicit in the assault would face criminal prosecution.  

The Telegraph/Al Jazeera 

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