New Delhi: Israeli military officials claimed to have discovered tunnels beneath the primary headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza City, news agency AP reported. The military said that the discovery suggests that Hamas militants utilised this space as an electrical supply room.
This revelation represents the latest development in Israel’s ongoing efforts against the besieged agency, which it accuses of collaborating with Hamas for the October 7 attacks. While the discovery did not definitively confirm the involvement of Hamas militants in the tunnels beneath the UNRWA facility, it did reveal that a section of the tunnel passed underneath the facility’s courtyard, AP reported.
Israeli military authorities asserted that the headquarters facilitated the tunnels by supplying them with electricity.
Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, stated that the agency had no prior knowledge of the underground facility. However, he stressed the importance of an “independent inquiry” into the findings, a task currently hindered by the ongoing conflict, AP reported.
“UNRWA is a human development and humanitarian organisation that 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 in a statement, reported AP.
As per the report, in a bid to locate the tunnel, the Israeli forces employed a tactic previously used elsewhere in the area, excavating large mounds of red earth to create a hole resembling a crater, which led to a small tunnel entrance. The uncovered shaft led to an underground passage estimated to stretch for at least half a kilometre, containing at least 10 doors, AP reported.
The military also allowed journalists to inspect the tunnel on Thursday.
At one point, journalists were able to peer upward from the tunnel through a hole and make eye contact with soldiers stationed in a courtyard within the UNRWA facility, as reported by the news agency.
Within one of the UNRWA buildings, they even observed a room filled with computers connected to wires running underground. The soldiers then guided them to a room in the underground tunnel, claiming that the wires were connected there.
This underground chamber featured a wall of electrical cabinets with multicoloured buttons and numerous cables. The military alleged that this room served as a central hub for powering tunnel infrastructure in the vicinity.