The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said Wednesday that it had discovered a "man-made cavity" underneath the grounds of one of its schools in the Gaza Strip, and condemned it as a breach of its neutrality and a threat to students' safety.
"In accordance with UNRWA protocols, the Agency immediately cordoned off the area and swiftly took the necessary measures to render the school safe, including permanently sealing the cavity," the agency said in a statement.
Islamist terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad's operatives in Gaza use an intricate network of subterranean tunnels to move around the Palestinian enclave without being spotted by the IDF.
The network, colloquially known in Israel as "the metro", was one of the Israeli military's main targets during its war with Gaza's armed factions in May 2021. Israeli fighter jets pounded these tunnels, leaving a trail of destruction throughout the Gaza Strip.
The tunnels are continuously targeted by Israel to prevent Palestinian rocket launches at small Israeli communities and cities surrounding Gaza.
UNWRA further said that it "protested strongly to the relevant authorities in Gaza to express outrage and condemnation of the presence of such a structure underneath one of its installations" and added that the underground space constitutes a "serious violation of the Agency’s neutrality and a breach of international law."
"UNRWA reiterates its demand that all parties respect the neutrality and inviolability of United Nations premises at all times. Such flagrant breaches of neutrality are serious violations of the Agency’s privileges and immunities, and they jeopardize the ability of UNRWA to provide support and protection to the 1.4 million Palestine refugees in need in Gaza," it concluded.