- As Hamas Rejects Red Cross Request to Reveal Fate of Israeli Soldiers
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency announced on Friday that they discovered on June 1 a tunnel under two of its schools in the Gaza Strip: The Maghazi Elementary Boys A&B School and the Maghazi Prepatory Boys School, which are located on the same premises.
In a statement, UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness said that the tunnels were discovered during construction of an extension of one of the buildings during summer vacation, when the schools were empty. The tunnel had no entry or exit points within the school.
“UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms,” the statement read. “It is unacceptable that students and staff are placed at risk in such a way. 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.”
UNRWA said it protested “robustly” to Hamas and intends to seal the tunnel.
In the meantime, Hamas has rejected a request by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to reveal the fate of Israeli soldiers that have gone missing in the movement-controlled Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Qanou said: “The case of Israeli soldier prisoners is in the hands of the movement and it alone takes decisions over this issue.”
“It will not comply with such demands from the Red Cross,” he added.
The ICRC had called on Hamas to respect it commitments to International Humanitarian Law in regards to its Israeli soldiers. It had demanded that the movement submit a report on their fate.
Head of the ICRC delegation in Israel Jacques de Maio said that regardless if the prisoners were civilians or soldiers, they are all protected by International Humanitarian Law.
“The fate of the people who were imprisoned while they were alive should be known and they should be treated humanely,” he stressed.
He also said that the remains of the deceased should be respected and returned to their loved ones.