Hamas had command tunnel underneath UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza, Israel says
The Israeli military escorted journalists through a Hamas tunnel it said extended beneath the UNRWA's headquarters in Gaza on Saturday.
The Israeli military revealed a network of tunnels underneath Gaza City that they said extended below the United Nations' headquarters in the region on Sunday.
The IDF escorted foreign reporters through the tunnels, entering through a shaft that pierced the surface next to a school. Israel argues that the tunnels are even more evidence that the U.N.'s mission in Gaza was compromised by Hamas terrorists.
"Everything is conducted from here. All the energy for the tunnels, which you walked through them, are powered from here," an Israeli officer told reporters during the tour."This is one of the central commands of the intelligence. This place is one of the Hamas intelligence units, where they commanded most of the combat."
UNRWA denied knowledge of the tunnels and said it vacated the headquarters on the surface as early as Oct. 12.
"UNRWA does not have the military and security expertise nor the capacity to undertake military inspections of what is or might be under its premises," the organization said in a statement.
"In the past, whenever a suspicious cavity was found close to or under UNRWA premises, protest letters were promptly filed to parties to the conflict, including both the de facto authorities in Gaza and the Israeli authorities," the statement continued.
Meanwhile, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri argued that Israel's claims of a connection between the UNRWA and the tunnels were "lies."
News of the tunnels comes amid Israeli allegations that hundreds of UNRWA employees expressed support for or were complicit in Hamas' Oct. 7 massacre in Israel.
Several Western nations have paused funding for UNRWA, which overseas aid for Gazans, amid the allegations.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called UNRWA "Hamas with a facelift" this weekend. He argued on Saturday that it was time for the world to "dismantle UNRWA" and create an alternative mechanism for providing aid to civilians in the war-stricken Gaza Strip.
"I think the world needs to wake up and address this issue in a different way, while also addressing Gaza’s needs," Gallant told Fox News Digital. "UNRWA is a group of terrorists who receive salaries from many countries – these countries gave money to people who raped, murdered and took people into captivity."
Fox News' Ruth Marks Eglash and Reuters contributed to this report