TEL AVIV – Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon on Sunday slammed Hamas over the discovery of a tunnel underneath a UN-run school in Gaza, accusing the terror group of using schoolchildren as “human shields.”
“Yet another terror tunnel under an UNRWA schoolyard. This is what Hamas rule looks like and this is more proof of the double war crime committed as terror tunnels are built to attack Israelis, while using the children of Gaza as human shields,” Danon said, referring to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency – the UN body for Palestinian refugees.
“We cannot accept a situation in which UNRWA schools are used as terror bases. This dangerous incident must not be ignored and strict oversight is needed to ensure that UN facilities are not used to protect terrorists,” he added.
The school reopened on Wednesday after a temporary closure during which UNRWA sealed off the tunnel opening.
“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 UN agency said in statement, making no mention of the party responsible for its construction.
In June, UNWRA discovered the presence of tunnels underneath two of its schools in the Maghazi refugee camp in the Gaza Strip near the city of Deir al-Balah.
Danon at the time called on the Security Council to “strongly and unequivocally condemn Hamas and its repeated abuse of civilian infrastructure, and designate this group as a terrorist organization.”
“It is of the utmost importance that the Council ensures that all UN-affiliated agencies, and especially UNRWA, remain neutral and safeguarded from abuse by terrorist organizations.”
UNRWA has come under fire on many occasions both for spreading anti-Semitic hate in its schools and for employing members of terror organizations and supporters of terror. In February, UN Watch released an 130-page report exposing 40 UNRWA school employees in Gaza and elsewhere who engaged in incitement to terror against Israelis and expressed “anti-Semitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler.”
That month the agency also announced the suspension of an UNRWA employee suspected of having been elected a Hamas leader.
The UN itself released a report in 2015 that found Palestinian terror groups used three empty UN-run schools in Gaza as a weapons cache. Moreover, it said that in at least two cases terrorists “probably” fired rockets at Israel from the schools during the 50-day summer conflict in 2014 between Israel and Hamas.