Skip to main content

UNRWA, Hamas deny connection to Gaza tunnels

The discovery of two tunnels under UNRWA-run schools in the Gaza Strip elicited denials from Hamas, the prime suspect in their construction.
A picture taken on June 10, 2017 shows a general view of the entrance of a UN school at the al-Maghazi refugee camp, located in the centre of the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has denied that it or any other militant group built a tunnel under two UN schools in Gaza after its discovery drew a strong UN protest. On June 1, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) found "part of a tunnel that passes under two adjacent agency schools in the Maghazi camp" during construction work, spokes
Read in 

Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), issued a statement June 9 announcing that UNRWA had discovered a tunnel June 1, allegedly dug by Hamas, under two of its affiliated schools, the Maghazi Elementary Boys A&B School and the Maghazi Preparatory Boys School. The discovery was made during work to expand a building belonging to one of the schools, which are in the Maghazi refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip. “UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms,” Gunness said. “It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way.”

Gunness called the digging of tunnels under UN facilities “incompatible with the respect of privileges and immunities owed to the United Nations under international law, which provides that UN premises shall be inviolable. The sanctity and neutrality of UN premises must be preserved at all times.” He noted that UNRWA had protested to Hamas and would be sealing the tunnels and would not allow anyone into the building until resolution of the issue.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.