Photo by TPS on 14 December, 2023

Hamas Use of UNRWA and USAID Sacks to Build Tunnels Raises Questions

Public By Sveta Listratov • 14 December, 2023

Jerusalem, 14 December, 2023 (TPS) -- The discovery of UN and USAID sacks being used by Hamas to construct terror tunnels in Gaza raises new questions about the security of humanitarian aid falling into the hands of the terror group.

The Tazpit Press Service has learned that Israeli soldiers recently made an unusual discovery in a tunnel underneath Al Azhar University in central Gaza. Behind the tunnel’s concrete walls were large sacks belonging to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The sacks were filled with sand, possibly intended to stabilize the tunnel before the concrete layer was added.

The Israel Defense Forces commander whose unit made the discovery told the Tazpit Press Service, “When the excavator dug it, we could clearly see that there were sacks and then the tunnel. We went down to look at the tunnel closely and saw the sacks there with captions of UNRWA and another American aid organization written on them.”

He added that “There was no aid in these sacks, no flour or anything else.”

It is not known how many such sacks were used as soldiers did not enter the tunnel, which was subsequently destroyed. But the commander confirmed to TPS that dozens of sacks were exposed.

The sacks “came up in several places where the tunnels were found, at least two places that I witnessed myself,” the commander told TPS.

“I was not shocked to discover these things, after all we have known for years that part of Hamas’s method is to use aid funds for terror purposes.”

UNRWA is a UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees. USAID is an independent agency of the United States government that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance.

Questions Raised

In early December, Israeli soldiers discovered inside a home in northern Gaza more than 100 rockets hidden among UNRWA boxes.

In October, the UNRWA reported that fuel and humanitarian aid was stolen from one its compounds by trucks purporting to be from the Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

Raising further questions about the UN agency, one released hostages told Israeli reporter Almog Boker that he was held captive by a UNRWA teacher. The hostage said the teacher locked him away and barely fed or cared for his medical treatment.

In November, the U.K.-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) issued a report detailing how at least 14 UNRWA teachers celebrated Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacres of Israelis on social media. The report included links and screenshots.

The report also noted that UNRWA curriculum helped fuel the massacre by noting that IMPACT-se was able to identify at least 118 participants in the Oct. 7 attack as former students of UNRWA schools.

Asked about the discovery of the UNRWA sacks, IMPACT-se COO Arik Agassi told TPS, “It is not surprising to find weapons hidden in UNRWA bags and it isn’t the first time that Hamas tunnels were discovered under UNRWA schools.”

The discovery casts significant doubts about UNRWA’s capacity to operate independently within the conflict, Agassi added.

USAID ceased all aid to Palestinians Judea, Samaria and Gaza at the Palestinian Authority’s request in 2019. The move was in response to legislation that would have allowed victims of Palestinian terror to sue the PA in US courts.

However, the US has provided 500,000 pounds of food assistance and plans for $100 million in aid to Gaza since the current ground war began.

At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. Hamas currently holds 137 men, women, children, soldiers and foreigners captive in Gaza. Some people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.