The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza revealed on Sunday that it recently found a tunnel underneath a school building that it operates for Palestinian children, The Times of Israel reported.
UNRWA officials said the tunnel was discovered two weeks ago and sealed off, and that classes reopened last Wednesday. They gave no explanation regarding who dug the tunnel or where it led to.
“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 agency said.
UNRWA informed Israel’s Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories, IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, of the matter and also lodged a complaint with the authorities in Gaza over a violation of the neutrality of a U.N. facility, according to Ynet website.
This was not the first time that a tunnel has been found running under an UNRWA building. On June 1, UNRWA said it found “part of a tunnel that passes under two adjacent agency schools in the Maghazi camp” during construction work.
That prompted Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon, to send a letter of protest to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. Security Council.
Hamas denied it was responsible for the tunnel.
UNRWA has long been criticized by Israel for harboring employees who have acted in collusion with Hamas. An independent U.N. inquiry found in 2015 that Palestinian armed groups hid weapons in three vacant U.N. schools in Gaza, and that in at least two cases terrorists “probably” fired rockets at Israel from those facilities during the summer war in 2014 between Israel and Hamas.