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Monday, July 22, 2024

IDF says discovered Hamas infrastructure under UNRWA headquarters in Gaza


 The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Saturday that it had allegedly discovered a Hamas tunnel under the main headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip.

“The forces operated in the areas of Shati and Tel al-Hawa in northern Gaza … Following ISA [Israel Securities Authority] intelligence, the forces arrived at a tunnel shaft near an UNRWA school. The shaft led to an underground terror tunnel that served as a significant asset of Hamas’ military intelligence and passed under the building that serves as UNRWA’s main headquarters in the Gaza Strip … The forces located electrical infrastructure inside the tunnel connected to UNRWA’s main headquarters, under which the underground tunnel was located, indicating that UNRWA’s facilities supplied the tunnel with electricity,” the IDF said in a statement on Telegram.

The Israeli forces also conducted a targeted raid on the UNRWA headquarters, the statement read, adding that a large number of weapons, including rifles, ammunition and grenades, were allegedly found in the building, which “confirmed that the offices had in fact also been used by Hamas terrorists.”

In January, UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini said Israel had shared with the agency data on the alleged involvement of some of its staff members in the October 7 Hamas attack and vowed to hold accountable anyone involved in “acts of terror.” The United States, Finland, Italy, Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and some other countries have since suspended funding for UNRWA.

On October 7, 2023, Palestinian movement Hamas launched a large-scale rocket attack against Israel from Gaza and breached the border, killing 1,200 people and abducting around 240 others. Israel launched retaliatory strikes, ordered a complete blockade of Gaza, and started a ground incursion into the Palestinian enclave with the declared goal of eliminating Hamas fighters and rescuing the hostages. Over 28,000 people have been killed so far in the Gaza Strip, local authorities said.

On November 24, Qatar mediated a deal between Israel and Hamas on a temporary truce and the exchange of some of the prisoners and hostages, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The ceasefire was extended several times and expired on December 1. More than 100 hostages are still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.

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