Israel reports discovery of Hamas tunnel under UNRWA headquarters in Gaza Strip

The entrance to the Hamas tunnel is located near a UNRWA-run school in the city of Gaza, according to Israeli military and intelligence officials.

Israel reports discovery of Hamas tunnel under UNRWA headquarters in Gaza Strip

The entrance to the Hamas tunnel is located near a UNRWA-run school in the city of Gaza, according to Israeli military and intelligence officials. An AFP photographer, in the presence of the Israeli army, filmed, among other things, a room with cables and metal cabinets that apparently contained electronics. According to Israeli information, the tunnel's "electrical infrastructure" was connected to UNRWA headquarters and was presumably supplied with electricity from there.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said in response to the Israeli reports that the headquarters in the city of Gaza had not been used since October 12. He claimed he knew nothing about the tunnel and called for an independent investigation.

Israel's Foreign Minister Katz called Lazzarini's statements on the online service X (formerly Twitter) "absurd" and spoke of an "affront to common sense." He called for the UNRWA chief to resign.

The German-Israeli Society expressed itself similarly harshly. If the Israeli reports are confirmed, "the extent of UNRWA's complicity and cronyism with Hamas will have a new quality," explained its President Volker Beck. He called for an “orderly exit” from funding the aid organization.

Serious allegations against UNRWA had already become known at the end of January: Twelve employees are suspected of being involved in Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7th. In response to the allegations, numerous countries, including Germany and the USA, announced that they would stop their payments to the aid organization.

According to Israeli information, around 1,160 people were killed and 250 were kidnapped as hostages in the Gaza Strip when Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the USA, attacked Israel. Israel then announced the destruction of Hamas and launched a massive military operation in the Gaza Strip. According to Hamas' latest figures, which cannot be independently verified, more than 28,100 people have been killed there since then.

Israeli attacks over the weekend focused on the southern Gaza towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah, according to consistent reports from the Israeli military and eyewitnesses. Hamas' health ministry reported 112 deaths and dozens of airstrikes on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stuck to plans for a military offensive in the city of Rafah despite international warnings. Victory is “within reach,” Netanyahu said in an interview with US broadcaster ABC News. "We will take the remaining Hamas terror battalions and the last bastion of Rafah."

Netanyahu announced corridors for the evacuation of more than a million people in the city. “We will provide the civilian population with a safe route out of the city,” he said. There is "plenty of space" in the areas north of Rafah that have been cleared by the Israeli military, and Israel is developing a "detailed plan."

More than a million refugees from other parts of the Palestinian territory have been stranded in Rafah since the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip began.

A Hamas official told AFP that any attack on Rafah would "torpedo" negotiations over a possible exchange of more Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

Last November, 105 hostages were exchanged for 240 Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire. According to Israeli information, there are still 132 hostages in the Gaza Strip and 29 have now died.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” with a view to a possible attack on Rafah. The approximately 1.3 million people “could not disappear into thin air,” Baerbock wrote on X. Criticism of Israel’s plans also came from the USA, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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