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UNRWA finds an tunnel to attack under one of its schools in Gaza

A tunnel used by Palestinian militants in Gaza was opened under one of the schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency last month.

The UNRWA Zaitoun A School for Boys and the A School for Boys were one of the organization’s two facilities damaged during the 11-day war in Gaza, which ended on May 21.

In late May, UNRWA discovered what “looks like a cavity and a possible tunnel at the site of the missile strike,” the organization said over the weekend.

“The depth of the cavity is approximately 7.5 meters below the surface of the school. UNRWA has revealed the existence of a possible tunnel in the context of the investigation into the rocket, “he said in a statement to the media.

UNRWA said the tunnel was not connected to the school. There is no “indication of the existence of any entry or exit points for the tunnel in the premises,”

; it added.

The organization condemned both the Palestinians who built the tunnel and the IDF for the attacks, which it said damaged the school.

“UNRWA condemns the existence and potential use by Palestinian militias of such tunnels under its schools under the strongest possible conditions. It is unacceptable for students and staff to be put at risk in this way, “the organization said.

But there was also a problem with the ID’s activities, noting that the school was an emergency shelter and had to be protected from attack.

“The Agency’s installations, as well as all UN facilities, are marked as such and fly under the roof of the UN flag. “UNRWA periodically shares the coordinates of all its installations with the relevant Israeli authorities, and during a conflict, the coordinates of certain emergency shelters are shared on a daily basis.”

Such actions by Palestinian arms groups and ISIS violate UNRWA’s “inviolability and neutrality,” which must be respected at all times, the organization said.

“UNRWA requires all parties to refrain from any activities or conduct that put beneficiaries and personnel at risk and undermine the ability of UNRWA personnel to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees in safety and security,” UNRWA said.

UNRWA’s call for security at its facilities followed a statement from Commissioner General Lazarini on Thursday that he had asked the organization’s director in Gaza, Matthias Schmale, to step out of the strip and come to Jerusalem after being threatened.

“UNRWA has strongly protested and challenged the position expressed by the De Facto authorities in Gaza that they can no longer guarantee the safety and security of our staff. “Unfortunately, such a position left the Agency with no choice but to ask staff to leave the Gaza Strip, as their security is of paramount importance to UNRWA,” Lazarini said.

The threats came after Schmale gave an interview to Israeli television N12 on May 22, in which he said he did not dispute Israel’s claim that its air strikes were “accurate”.

Schmale apologized for his remarks, commenting on the brutality of the air strikes and saying: “… the accuracy was there, but there was an unacceptable and unbearable loss of life on the civilian side.”

A UNRWA spokesman told Reuters that Deputy Commissioner General Lenny Stenset would temporarily lead the Gaza team.

“UNRWA unequivocally condemns the killings and injuries of all civilians, including Palestinian refugees, and consistently calls on all parties to ensure the protection of the civilian population during the recent hostilities in Gaza and the recent escalation of violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” Lazarie said. .

Reuters contributed to this report.

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