“To think that the U.N. had any understanding of what was…any information about those operations, I think, is: No is clearly the answer for that,” said a U.N. spokesman.
Despite the presence of a Hamas terror tunnel system in the Gaza Strip now thought to be larger in scale than the London Underground, the United Nations insists it had no idea the tunnels were being built.
Asked on Wednesday whether, given the United Nations’ sizable presence in Gaza via a variety of agencies, there had been any indication to the global body that tunnels were being constructed underground, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “No is clearly the answer for that.”
Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that “it seems to me that all this infrastructure was built in a highly secretive way.”
However, officials from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) sounded the alarm on the presence of tunnels under U.N. facilities twice in 2017, and again in 2021 and 2022.
UNRWA alone has 13,000 employees in over 300 facilities across Gaza. At least a dozen other U.N. agencies operate in Gaza. It has been well documented that many U.N. employees in Gaza have professional and personal ties to Hamas.
Still, Dujarric insisted that the United Nations was unaware of the sophisticated labyrinth of tunnels being dug and fortified throughout Gaza.
“I mean, just to see it as an observer, to think that the U.N. had any understanding of what was…any information about those operations, I think, is: No is clearly the answer for that,” he said.
A senior official from the World Health Organization also insisted that none of its staffers saw any evidence of a Hamas presence at Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital, despite video footage showing terrorists whisking hostages into the facility on Oct. 7 with no pushback from hospital staff.
Image: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant tours the largest-ever Hamas attack tunnel uncovered by the IDF, December 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Israeli Defense Ministry.