UN Professes Shock After Discovery Of Hamas Terror Tunnels Under Its Schools After Dismissing Israeli Claims

What are they going to do about the tunnels?

In a statement released Friday, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) condemned the “existence” of Hamas terror tunnels passing under “two adjacent Agency schools in Maghazi camp the Gaza Strip.”

UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said the tunnels were discovered during the summer vacation, at a time when the schools are empty, and in the course of work related to the construction of an extension of one of the buildings.”

“UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way,” he added. “The construction and presence of tunnels under UN premises are incompatible with the respect of privileges and immunities owed to the United Nations under applicable international law, which provides that UN premises shall be inviolable. The sanctity and neutrality of UN premises must be preserved at all times.”

Based on UNRWA’s statement, one would be fooled into thinking that the Agency had no prior warning of the existence of such tunnels.

For a number of years now, Israel has warned the world of these terror tunnels to no avail. In the past, Israeli jets have struck sites near UNRWA precisely because of the fact that many of these schools double as arms storage facilities. These carefully coordinated precision strikes have nonetheless drawn the wrath of the United Nations, the same organization that has suggested that Israel is engaged in a campaign of gratuitous slaughter against perpetually victimized Palestinians.

But now, UNRWA’s own findings back what Israel has been saying all along. DailyWire

Disband UNRWA

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday called for the dismantling of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), following the discovery of a Hamas terror tunnel dug underneath two of the U.N. body’s schools in Gaza.

“Hamas is using schoolchildren as human shields and this is the enemy that we have been fighting against for many years, an enemy that is committing a twofold war crime.It first attacks innocent civilians and then hides behind children,” Netanyahu said.

“I regret that UNRWA, to a large degree, by its very existence, perpetuates—and does not solve—the Palestinian refugee problem. Therefore, the time has come to disband UNRWA and integrate it into the UNHCR (U.N. Human Rights Council),” he said. BreakingIsraelNews

IDF Begins Construction Of Massive Underground Wall On Gaza Border

gaza-tunnels-digThe IDF  has begun the construction of a massive wall along the 60 km (37 mile) Israel-Gaza border.  The new wall will be below ground and above ground with high-tech detection systems and sensors.

In the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas dug over 30 tunnels to launch attacks in Israel.  Hamas continues digging tunnels.

The IDF has begun construction on a massive, $600 million underground wall along the Israel-Gaza border intended to halt Hamas terror tunnels used to launch attacks and funnel weapons.

The wall, which will run the length of Israel’s 60-kilometer border with the Gaza Strip, will reach to a depth of several dozen meters, said IDF officials. The concrete barrier will also stretch above-ground.

The wall is the largest engineering project ever to be carried out by the IDF engineering corps, said General Gazi Eizenkot, IDF Chief of Staff.

Israel broke ground for the first portion of the new barrier along northern Gaza, near the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, which comprises a cluster of Israeli communities living under the constant threat of infiltration from terrorists burrowing underneath the nearby border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

High-tech detection systems and sensors incorporated into the thick concrete wall will represent an additional barrier to terrorists.BreakingNewsIsrael

Remains Of 1,500-Year-Old Byzantine Church Uncovered In Gaza

gaza-churchConstruction workers in Gaza discovered ancient ruins of a Byzantine church dating from around 1,500 years ago on land where they were preparing to build a shopping center.

Fifteen pieces were discovered, including segments of marble pillars with Corinthian capitals, one of which is nearly three meters long.  A 90-cm foundation stone bearing the Greek symbol for “Christ” was also found at the site located in Palestine Square in downtown Gaza City. TimesOfIsrael

University of Washington Professor Amazed To See No Wrenching Poverty In Gaza

gaza photoA few weeks ago Professor Joel S. Migdal, the founding chair of the University of Washington International Studies Program,  visited Gaza for six hours and shares his amazement at what he saw, not a third world city.

I was flooded with impressions as we drove into the old city of Gaza. The first was, unexpectedly, that it looked nothing like India. Given the severe poverty, even humanitarian crisis, that Gaza as a whole is experiencing, I had expected the obvious and wrenching poverty that I had seen in some Indian cities or many other Third World countries, for that matter—collapsing infrastructure, rickety shacks, a surfeit of beggars, children in rags, adults sleeping on the sidewalks.

At least in this part of the city and others that I saw later in the day, none of that was visible. Instead, I saw hordes of children going to school, university students walking in and out of the gates of the two universities—both the children and the university students reasonably dressed. I observed morning shoppers buying vegetables and fruits from stands, shopkeepers opening their shops, and people walking purposefully to wherever they were going for the start of the day. There were cranes and construction workers everywhere, with lots of uncompleted buildings being worked on. A garbage truck, with a UN sign on it, was making its rounds.

I saw almost no signs of authority on the streets. No police. No guns. No moral police. One person commented to me that in 2009 Hamas was omnipresent, with lots of moral policing on the streets. Since then, such surveillance has fallen off, but people have learned to be self-policing in their behavior in public, he said, just to be safe and not harassed.

There was the occasional bombed out building, from the 2014 War. One had the entire top of the building, several stories, simply blown off. But other than those, most buildings were in decent shape, and some apartment buildings were downright nice. There were definitely some junkers on the road, but most of the cars looked like late-model varieties. Some of the side streets were pocked and broken up; the main thoroughfares, though, were in good shape. There were almost no traffic lights, and traffic was a bit chaotic. I must add again that I was in Gaza City (both the old and new parts of the city) only and did not go to some of the outer areas and refugee camps where the bombing in the 2014 war was the heaviest and where, I understand, destruction was massive.

People were certainly not in rags. Men were mostly in chino-type pants and button-down shirts. With very few exceptions, women were covered with the hijab and burka. Perhaps 10-20 percent of them were in black with their faces totally covered. Incidentally, this sort of veiling was not a traditional practice in Palestinian society; it is very much a product of the “new fundamentalism.”

On Israel and Hamas

The fascinating people I met during the day actually related to Israel in what I considered a very interesting fashion. In conversation after conversation, there was a kind of by-the-way acknowledgment of the destructiveness of Israel’s policies and, for sure, a general hatred for Israel. But what was striking was how everyone quickly went on from those sorts of almost off-handed comments to criticize how the Hamas government or the people themselves are also responsible for the state of affairs. There was no obsessing about Israel, which I found interesting. Indeed, there might even be a general acceptance of Israel in terms of realizing that Israel will long be part of their future.

Two Gaza’s and a lot of mosque building by Hamas

My final meeting was with a fascinating character, Atef Abu Saif. Atef holds a Ph.D. in political science from the European University Institute in Florence, having worked with a friend of mine, Professor Phillipe Schmitter. Atef is also a novelist. He now teaches political science at Al-Azhar Gaza University and writes frequently, including for the New York Times and Slate. An open member of Fatah (although critical of the Fatah leadership), he has clashed with Hamas on a number of occasions, landing him in jail for short stints.

Atef’s main contention is that there are actually two Gazas. One is the one run by Hamas and includes its supporters. He noted, for example, that there has been a mosque-building binge, leading to a total of 879 mosques in the Strip by 2014, as compared to two public libraries. In his words, “Gaza has become one huge mosque.” The second Gaza consists of the Palestinian public in Gaza, engaged in all sorts of cultural and social activities outside Hamas’s orbit. If not quite a civil society, he intimated, there is a lot that goes on beneath the radar.

Saif lived in relative obscurity until his latest novel, A Suspended Life, was short-listed for last year’s International Prize for Arabic Literature, popularly called the Arabic Man Booker Prize. Immediately, he was thrust into the role of celebrity throughout the Arab world. Not yet translated into English, the story pushes his idea of two Gazas. The book did not go over well with Hamas authorities in Gaza and, at one point, he was seized traveling to the award ceremony. The entire scene was photographed while he was holding a copy of the book. The picture spread virally throughout the Arab world, and since that time he has not been bothered by the authorities.

Online:   Six hours in Gaza: a first-person account by Jackson School Professor Joel Migdal

Photo by Il Naso precario