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Israel's UN Ambassador Blasts UNRWA: 'UN = Hamas and Vice Versa'

Israeli soldiers take position as they enter the UNRWA headquarters where the IDF discovered Hamas tunnels underneath the agency, Feb. 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Israeli soldiers take position as they enter the UNRWA headquarters where the IDF discovered Hamas tunnels underneath the agency, Feb. 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

JERUSALEM, Israel – Gilad Erdan, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, called Saturday night  for the resignation of the head of UNRWA, the U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, who claimed "we didn't know" about Hamas terror tunnels running underneath the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza.

Posting on X, Erdan wrote, “It’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did you refuse, you chose to stick your head in the sand."

Erdan continued, calling for UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini to step down. “Take responsibility and resign today! Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa. Anything the UN says or claims about Gaza cannot be trusted," he declared.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau showed visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken photos of the tunnel in the Rimon neighborhood of Gaza City last week, according to a report in Israel Hayom.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also uncovered evidence that UNRWA was providing electricity to Hamas terrorists through a shared electric infrastructure. One of the tunnels ran from an UNRWA school to an underground shelter for the Hamas military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Lazzarini had earlier denied any knowledge of the tunnels, writing on X, “UNRWA staff left its headquarters in Gaza City on 12 October following the Israeli evacuation orders and as bombardment intensified in the area. We have not used that compound since we left it nor are we aware of any activity that may have taken place there.”

Lazzarini added that the agency conducted frequent checks of its properties. "In times of 'no active conflict,'" he wrote, "UNRWA inspects inside its premises every quarter. The last inspection for the UNRWA Gaza premises was completed in September 2023."

After the IDF made the tunnel discoveries and gleaned further information from Israel's internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, the military carried out a raid on UNRWA headquarters, where they discovered weapons, ammunition and explosives.

Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz seconded Erdan's demand for Lazzarini's resignation, with an post stating, in part, "Commissioner-General Lazzarini's claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative."

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