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UN’s Aid Agency in Gaza Unaware of Tunnel Beneath Headquarters



Un's Aid Agency In Gaza Unaware Of Tunnel Beneath Headquarters

The chief of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza, Philippe Lazzarini, has stated that the agency had no prior knowledge of what lay beneath its abandoned headquarters amidst Israeli claims of a Hamas tunnel passing below the site in Gaza City.

Lazzarini’s remarks came after the Israeli military showcased a tunnel running beneath the UNRWA headquarters to journalists. While no definitive proof of Hamas activity was provided, the Israeli army revealed that a portion of the tunnel system extended under the courtyard of the aid agency’s former premises.

Inside one of the buildings, reporters observed a room filled with computers connected to wires leading underground. They were then guided to an underground tunnel chamber where the wires allegedly converged, revealing a setup with electrical cabinets, cables, and control panels, purportedly supporting tunnel infrastructure in the area.

Israel‘s military operations in Gaza have aimed to dismantle the extensive underground network utilized by Hamas for transporting fighters, weaponry, and supplies. The underground tunnels are estimated to span hundreds of kilometers across the enclave, reaching depths of 15 to 60 meters.

UNRWA, the primary humanitarian agency in Gaza, has been grappling with severe funding shortages following accusations of ties to Hamas, prompting key donors like the United States to withdraw financial support. Lazzarini affirmed that UNRWA vacated its headquarters post-evacuation orders by Israel in early October.

Lazzarini emphasized that UNRWA lacked the expertise to conduct military inspections beneath its premises and could not verify the reports without an independent inquiry, given the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The agency routinely inspects its facilities during times of peace.

As allegations of UNRWA staff involvement in Hamas activities surfaced, the agency responded by terminating implicated individuals’ contracts. However, the subsequent withdrawal of funding, freezing of accounts, and logistical hindrances by Israel have exacerbated UNRWA’s financial crisis.

Despite challenges, the agency continues to be Gaza’s vital support system for over two million residents, navigating complex political and security dynamics in the region.

Rachel Adams

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