UNRWA demands end to tunnel building under its schools

Palestinian militants must stop building tunnels under Gaza schools, UNRWA says

A Palestinian tunnel in Gaza.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian tunnel in Gaza.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians must stop building tunnels under Gaza schools, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East said this weekend, as it made public the presence of a new tunnel under one of its schools.
UNRWA said it first discovered “what appeared to be a tunnel” under one of its schools on October 15.
It sealed the tunnel and reopened the school on October 25.
“The presence of a tunnel underneath an UNRWA installation, which enjoys inviolability under international law, is unacceptable.
It places children and agency staff at risk,” the organization said in a statement.
“The agency again demands full respect for the neutrality and inviolability of United Nations premises at all times. Any activities or conduct that put beneficiaries and staff alike at risk, and undermine the ability of UNRWA staff to provide assistance to Palestine refugees in safety and security, must cease,” UNRWA said.
Israel has long warned that Hamas, which controls Gaza, hides military installations, tunnels and weapons under schools and hospitals in the Strip. The terrorist group has increasingly focused on the construction of concrete tunnels to launch attacks against Israel.
“Hamas is using the UNRWA facilities to build a network of terror,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said. “We are glad that UNRWA noticed what we have been telling them for years,” he said.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said: “Yet another terror tunnel under an UNRWA school yard – this is what Hamas rule looks like and this is more proof of the double warcrime committed as terror tunnels are built to attack Israelis, while using the children of Gaza as human shields.
“We cannot accept a situation in which UNRWA schools are used as terror bases. This dangerous incident must not be ignored and strict oversight is needed to ensure that UN facilities are not used to protect terrorists.”
In June, UNRWA similarly reported it had discovered a tunnel that passed under two of its primary schools, which had already closed for the summer. That tunnel has also been sealed.