Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA), said that his organization has seen Israeli reports about the existence of a tunnel beneath its headquarters in the Gaza Strip, which UNRWA does not confirm. Could or comment on these reports.
Lazzarini wrote in his account on the social media platform “X” that what is being understood from media reports is that the Israeli army has deployed troops inside the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City.
He said that Israeli authorities did not officially inform the agency about the alleged tunnel, stressing that this media report “requires an independent investigation, which cannot be conducted at present because Gaza There is an active war zone.”
Lazzarini said UNRWA inspects its buildings every three months “when there is no active conflict in the area,” and the last inspection in the sector took place in September 2023, and “whenever there is any activity near or under UNRWA buildings.” If suspected cavity is found, letters of protest are immediately submitted.” The parties to the conflict, including the de facto authorities in Gaza, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Israeli authorities.”
He stressed that this issue is consistently addressed in annual reports submitted to the General Assembly and published for public opinion.
Lazzarini pointed out that UNRWA staff left their main headquarters in Gaza City on October 12, 2023, following Israeli evacuation orders and the intensification of bombardment in the area, stressing that the UN organization has since their departure. Have not used this place and have no knowledge about it. Activity that may have occurred there.
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA indicated that the agency does not know what is under its headquarters in Gaza, explaining that it is a humanitarian development organization, and does not have military and security experience nor what Or maybe it has the ability to conduct military surveillance. Be under its buildings.
The Israeli military said it discovered a tunnel beneath the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza that was used by Hamas.
In response to Israel, its representative to the UN Gilad Erdan called on the Commissioner-General of UNRWA to assume responsibility and resign from the leadership of this international organization.
“It's not that you don't know, it's that you don't want to know. We've uncovered terrorist tunnels under UNRWA schools, and provided evidence,” Erdan said in a tweet in response to the agency's commissioner-general. that Hamas is exploiting.” UNRWA.”
The Israeli official said, “We appealed to you to conduct a comprehensive inspection of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But you not only refused, but decided to bury your head in the sand.”
Several countries, led by the United States in addition to the European Union, decided to suspend funding for UNRWA based on Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency's staff had taken part in a Hamas attack on 7 October.
UN officials stressed the impossibility of finding an alternative to UNRWA and warned of the disastrous consequences of actions taken by these countries towards the UN agency.