A UN agency said it had no idea a Hamas nerve center was directly below its Gaza HQ
- The IDF claimed to have found a Hamas nerve center directly underneath the UNRWA HQ in Gaza.
- The UNRWA's chief said the agency was unaware of what was happening beneath its compound.
Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations has called on the chief of a UN agency to resign after it claimed ignorance about what Israel says was a Hamas nerve center directly beneath its Gaza headquarters.
Over the weekend, the Israel Defense Forces said it had discovered "electrical infrastructure" and rows of computer services underneath the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East in Gaza City.
Although journalists were invited to visit the site, which Israeli military officials described as a "Hamas intelligence hub," the IDF did not provide definitive proof that Hamas militants had carried out operations in the tunnel, per The Associated Press.
Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the UNRWA, said in an X post on Saturday that the agency "did not know what is under its headquarters in Gaza."
He mentioned that the UNRWA became aware of reports of a tunnel under the headquarters through the media, stating that the agency would not have been aware of activities at the compound since its staff had vacated it on October 12.
Lazzarini also mentioned in the post that the UNRWA last inspected the premises in September 2023.
However, he added that the UNRWA "does not have the military and security expertise nor the capacity to undertake military inspections of what is or might be under its premises."
Lazzarini said the discovery warrants an independent inquiry but stated that this would not be possible because "Gaza is an active war zone."
However, Gilad Erdan, Israel's UN Ambassador, responded with a fiery X post, calling for Lazzarini's resignation.
.@UNLazzarini it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did… https://t.co/bJsD66OwoO— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) February 10, 2024
"It's not that you didn't know, it's that you didn't WANT to know," he said.
Erdan claimed that Israel had provided "evidence that Hamas' exploits UNRWA," and that Israel had urged the agency to carry out a comprehensive search of all facilities in Gaza.
"But not only did you refuse, you chose to stick your head in the sand," he said.
Later in the post, Erdan wrote: "Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa."
At the time, Lazzarini said the organization had dismissed the employees concerned and launched an investigation.
Several nations, including the US, UK, and Canada, consequently paused funding for the agency.
The UNRWA in Gaza did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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