Tel Aviv: Foreign Minister of Israel, Israel Kantz and the permanent representative of the country in the United Nations, Gilad Erdan along with a host of other senior leaders have demanded the resignation of Philippe Lazzarini, chief of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian Refugees of the Near East (UNRWA).
The demand arose after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unearthed a tunnel shaft under the headquarters of the UNRWA that houses important data centres of the terror outfit, Hamas.
Kantz while commenting on X said, “The exposure of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters’ deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action. Commissioner-General Lazzarini’s claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative.”
Erdan also came out strongly against the UNRWA chief and said, “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.”
He further said, “Take responsibility and resign today!”
Lazzirini had in an earlier statement on X said, “UNRWA did not know what is under its headquarters in Gaza. 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,”
He also stated that they perform routine checks on all of their premises, saying, “In times of ‘no active conflict,’ UNRWA inspects inside its premises every quarter. The last inspection for the UNRWA Gaza premises was completed in September 2023.
It may be noted that the IDF had discovered a tunnel shaft near a UNRWA school during its raids near the UNRWA head office in Gaza.
The tunnel shaft, near an UNRWA school, led to an underground shelter that served as a valuable asset for Hamas’s military intelligence wing, according to the IDF. The route connected to UNRWA‘s central headquarters in Gaza strip.
The IDF said that the tunnel was 700 meters long and 18 meters deep and contained several constructed side doors to various new routes.
IDF soldiers also discovered electric infrastructure inside the tunnels that were connected to the UNRWA headquarters building, indicating that UNRWA assets were supplying Hamas with electricity.
The IDF stated that the newly acquired intelligence from this operation will allow it to conduct additional raids on Hamas in the future.