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UNRWA scrutiny grows after IDF finds tunnel network under agency’s Gaza HQ

Feb 12

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International scrutiny of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, tasked with providing relief for Palestinian refugees, intensified after Israeli Defense Forces discovered a “Hamas tunnel network” beneath the agency’s Gaza headquarters. Over the weekend of Feb. 10, IDF officials reported the discovery of a tunnel shaft near a UNRWA school. The shaft reportedly led to an underground Hamas tunnel directly beneath the headquarters.

“We want every international organization to work in Gaza,” said IDF Lt. Col. Ido, whose last name was withheld for anonymity. “They are not our problem. Our problem is Hamas, operating within and underneath UNRWA. We will now reveal what we have found during the past two weeks.”

According to the soldiers, the tunnel is 700 meters long and 18 meters deep. It features “multiple blast doors and various intelligence assets seized by the forces.”

Soldiers reported finding Hamas offices inside, stocked with rifles, ammunition, grenades and explosives. The Israeli military also alleged that the tunnel’s electrical infrastructure was connected to UNRWA’s main headquarters above, and suggested that the agency provided Hamas with electricity that was generated from humanitarian aid fuel.

The Associated Press reported that its journalists stood in the UNRWA headquarters building and observed wires connecting underground. The IDF referred to this area as Hamas’ data center.

“Twenty meters above us is the UNRWA headquarters,” Ido said. “This is the electricity room. You can see all around here the batteries, the electricity on walls. Everything is conducted from here. All the energy for the tunnels which you walked through are powered from here.”

UNRWA officials claimed they had no knowledge of the underground Hamas facilities and called for an “independent inquiry.”

The organization faces heightened scrutiny following allegations that 12 of its staff members participated in an Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack, resulting in 1,200 casualties and the captivity of 240 hostages in southern Israel.

UNRWA officials stated that 10 of the 12 employees implicated were terminated, while two were deceased before the Israeli claims emerged.

According to an Israeli intelligence dossier released in January, at least 190 UNRWA employees are described as “hardened fighters, killers,” with 10% of the agency’s workforce having ties to militant groups.

The allegations prompted donors, including the United States and Germany, to suspend $400 million in funding to the agency.

Last week, Biden administration officials said they would not resume aid to UNRWA until the investigation concludes.

The UNRWA is now struggling to provide aid to over 1.5 million displaced Gazans in Rafah, who suffer from severe shortages of food, clean water and medicine. The UNRWA chief is warning of the agency’s imminent collapse.

As deadly Israeli airstrikes hit the territory overnight, Palestinians in Rafah fear for a potential ground offensive by the IDF. Over a million Palestinians have nowhere else to seek refuge.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR] 

INTERNATIONAL SCRUTINY OF A U-N ORGANIZATION SET UP TO HELP PALESTINIAN REFUGEES CONTINUES TO GROW.

ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES UNCOVERED WHAT THEY’RE CALLING A HAMAS TUNNEL NETWORK –

UNDERNEATH THE UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEES HEADQUARTERS IN GAZA.

OVER THE WEEKEND THE IDF SAYING TROOPS FOUND A TUNNEL SHAFT NEAR AN UNRWA SCHOOL – LEADING TO AN UNDERGROUND TUNNEL JUST BENEATH UNRWA’S HEADQUARTERS.

(Lt. Col. Ido / ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES)

“We want every international to organization to work in Gaza. They are not our problem. Our problem is the Hamas, the Hamas working in the UNRWA and under the UNRWA. We will show you now what we found for the last two weeks that we’ve been here.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR] 

THE TUNNEL IS 700 METERS LONG AND 18 METERS DEEP… CONTAINING “MULTIPLE BLAST DOORS AND VARIOUS INTELLIGENCE ASSETS SEIZED BY THE FORCES”

INSIDE – SOLDIERS SAID THEY FOUND HAMAS OFFICES – STOCKED WITH RIFLES, AMMUNITION, GRENADES, AND EXPLOSIVES.

THE IDF ALSO SAYING ELECTRICAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE TUNNEL WAS CONNECTED TO UNRWA’S MAIN HEADQUARTERS ABOVE. THE ISRAELI MILITARY SUGGESTING UNRWA SUPPLIED HAMAS WITH ELECTRICITY INSIDE THE TUNNEL – WHICH WAS GENERATED BY FUEL – PROVIDED THROUGH HUMANITARIAN AID.

ACCORDING TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS —

THEIR JOURNALISTS STOOD IN THE UNRWA HEADQUARTERS BUILDING –

AND ROOM FULL OF COMPUTERS – AND THEY COULD SEE WIRES CONNECTING UNDERGROUND.

Israeli Defense Forces calling this Hamas’ data center – powered by the UNRWA electrical supply.

(Lt. Col. Ido / ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES)

“Twenty meters above us is the UNRWA headquarters. This is the electricity room, you can see all around here the batteries, the electricity on walls, everything is conducted from here, all the energy for the tunnels which you walked though are powered from here.”

[LAUREN TAYLOR] 

UNRWA OFFICIALS SAID THEY HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE UNDERGROUND HAMAS FACILITIES – AND THAT THE FINDINGS WARRANT AN “INDEPENDENT INQUIRY” 

THE ORGANIZATION IS ALREADY FACING MOUNTING SCRUTINY AFTER ALLEGATIONS SURFACED – THAT 12 OF ITS STAFF MEMBERS PARTICIPATED IN THE OCTOBER 7TH HAMAS TERROR ATTACK WHEN HAMAS MILITANTS KILLED 1,200 PEOPLE AND TOOK MORE THAN 240 HOSTAGES. 

UNRWA OFFICIALS SAID 10 OF THOSE 12 EMPLOYEES WERE FIRED – AND TWO OTHERS WERE DEAD BEFORE THE ISRAELI CLAIMS.

According to an Israeli intelligence dossier released at the end of January –  at least 190 UNRWA employees are “hardened fighters, killers” with 10-percent of the agency’s workforce having ties to militant groups.

THESE CLAIMS PROMPTED DONORS – INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES AND GERMANY — TO SUSPEND THEIR $400 MILLION DOLLARS IN FUNDING TO THE AGENCY.

LAST WEEK – OFFICIALS WITH THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION SAID THEY WILL NOT RESUME AID TO UNRWA UNTIL THE INVESTIGATION CONCLUDES.

UNRWA IS NOW STRUGGLING TO PROVIDE AID TO MORE THAN A 1.5 MILLION GAZANS TAKING SHELTER IN A TENT CITY IN RAFAH – DISPLACED BY THE ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR SUFFERING FROM SEVERE SHORTAGES OF FOOD, CLEAN WATER, AND MEDICINE…

AND THE AGENCY’S CHIEF SAYS UNRWA IS “ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE.”

RIGHT NOW – PANIC IS SETTING IN FOR PALESTINIANS LIVING IN RAFAH.

DEADLY ISRAELI AIRSTRIKES HIT THE TINY TERRITORY OVERNIGHT – REIGNITING FEARS THAT THE IDF COULD LAUNCH A GROUND OFFENSIVE IN THE AREA – WITH MORE THAN A MILLION PALESTINIANS HAVING NO WHERE ELSE TO GO.