The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees uncovered a Hamas-built tunnel under a boys’ primary school in the Gaza Strip, according to a statement released by the organisation last Friday.
The tunnel was discovered by UNRWA workers at the beginning of the month under the school, which is part of a compound comprising other schools in the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza.
The tunnel, between two and three metres underground, passes under the Maghazi Elementary Boys A&B School and the Maghazi Preparatory Boys School, and was built both westward into Gaza and eastward toward the security fence with Israel, according to UNRWA.
UNRWA said in a statement: “The discovery was made during the summer vacation, at a time when the schools are empty, and in the course of work related to the construction of an extension of one of the buildings”.
The UN agency added that the tunnel “has no entry or exit points on the premises nor is it connected to the schools or other buildings in any way”.
UNRWA said it condemns “the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms”, adding that it was “unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way”.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in a statement “that the cruelty of Hamas knows no bounds as they use the children of Gaza as human shields. Instead of UN schools serving as centres of learning and education, Hamas has turned them into terror bases for attacks on Israel”.
During the 2014 Gaza conflict, stockpiles of rockets were found in multiple school buildings that were controlled by UNRWA. In official statements they condemned the groups for endangering the lives of civilians and asked “the warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property”.