Israel Asks UNRWA Chief to Quit Over Hamas' Tunnel' Under Gaza HQ

  • Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Saturday called for Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), to resign after it claimed to have discovered a Hamas tunnel underneath the agency's Gaza City headquarters. AL
  • On Thursday, the Israeli military invited journalists from multiple international news outlets to visit the site in the al-Rimal neighborhood, that it alleged served as a key communications and intelligence hub for Hamas fighters. Wall Street Journal (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • The 700-meter-long and 18-meter-deep tunnel infrastructure allegedly began at a UNRWA school and was reportedly supplied with electricity from the agency's compound. While journalists could see the tunnel, there was no evidence that it was operated by Hamas. Associated Press (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • Lazzarini, who has fired most of the 12 staffers allegedly connected to the Oct. 7 attack, said that the agency did not have the "capacity, military expertise, technology or the mandate" to monitor what lay beneath its Gaza facility. New York Times (LR: 2 CP: 5)
  • Over a dozen countries, including the US, have suspended their funding to UNRWA — which currently employs some 13K people to deliver humanitarian aid in Gaza — since Israeli intelligence claimed last month that many of the agency's employees had ties to militant groups. The Times of Israel
  • Meanwhile, Gaza's health ministry reported on Saturday that the four-month-long conflict has killed more than 28K people in the Gaza Strip, mostly women and children. The official Israeli death toll of Oct. 7 stands at around 1.2K people. Middle East Monitor

Pro-Palestine narrative:

  • The US and Israel-led campaign to demonize the UNRWA as Gaza's humanitarian situation deteriorates even further is immoral and cruel. Even if Israel's unfounded allegations are true, the number of employees implicated wouldn't be nearly enough to warrant suspending the agency's funding, which is essential to providing basic amenities to displaced Palestinians. Targeting the UNRWA is a form of collective punishment that will only hurt innocent civilians.

Pro-Israel narrative:

  • There's no question that the UNRWA has been at least partially complicit in Hamas' atrocious actions. Hamas is an authoritarian terrorist group, and no organization can operate in Gaza without its approval and cooperation. Since its establishment, the UNRWA has created false hope among Palestinians that Israel will one day cease to exist. A comprehensive review of the agency and its purpose is long overdue.
    NEW YORK POST (LR: 5 CP: 5)

Nerd narrative:

  • There's a 75% chance that an independent review will find UNRWA staff involvement in the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attacks, according to the Metaculus prediction community.
    METACULUS (LR: 3 CP: 3)
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