Israeli military strikes Hamas command center located in UN agency facility

JERUSALEM – The Israel Defense Forces and the country’s domestic security agency Shin Bet announced that a military strike on Sunday targeted a Hamas command center located in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) compound in the Gaza Strip. According to an IDF statement, “The strike was carefully planned and carried out using precise munition in order to minimize harm to uninvolved civilians.” The statement said, “The command and control center was used as a staging ground for multiple attacks on IDF troops located in Gaza’s central corridor in recent weeks. Furthermore, the forward operations base was used to carry out attacks on humanitarian efforts, which aims to increase the distribution of humanitarian aid to Gazan civilians.” The IDF statement added, “Hamas oversaw the supply of weapons to dozens of Hamas terrorists from inside the command and control center, including those located and operating inside underground terror tunnels. Hamas intentionally positioned the command and control position within the vicinity of an active UNRWA location, jeopardizing the Gazan civilians taking refuge there. As a result of the strike, the Hamas’ command and control center located in the UNRWA complex is no longer operational.” When approached about the IDF strike on the UNRWA facility and the contention that the U.N.’s facility was a Hamas terrorist command center, a UNRWA spokesperson, Juliette Touma, told Digital, “On this particular incident we don’t have more information. For all violations of the inviolability of United Nations premises we call for investigations.” The IDF and Shin Bet joint statement said, “The Hamas terrorist organization systematically exploits the civilian population and institutions as human shields for their terrorist activities against the State of Israel.” When asked if Hamas was endangering UNRWA employees and Palestinians by using UNRWA schools and other buildings to store weapons and lodge terrorists, Touma told Digital, “You see, we don’t know if the above claim is true.” David Bedein, an Israeli expert on UNRWA, told Digital that “the past seven months of combat, UNRWA facilities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), in Jerusalem and in Gaza, have been shown to be filled with weapons, ammunition and missiles. What we have uncovered over a period of over 37 years is UNRWA is Hamas and Hamas is UNRWA.” Bedein is the director of the Center for Near East Policy Research and has published numerous reports on UNRWA’s curriculum that documented pro-terrorism and pro-antisemitic teaching. Bedein added, “Since the IDF discovered so many weapons in 40 schools and hospitals over the last six months, how does UNRWA account for the massive amount of weapons found in UNRWA schools and medical facilities in Gaza and Jenin in the West Bank?” When Digital sent Touma from UNRWA Bedein’s question, she wrote, “We call for accountability and investigations into ALL violations by ALL parties to the conflict into the breaches of international law and the lack of protection of U.N. premises and personnel in Gaza.” Over the weekend, Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner in charge of UNRWA, took to X to complain, “The Israeli Authorities continue to deny humanitarian access to the United Nations. Just this week, they have denied – for the second time – my entry to Gaza where I planned to be with our @UNRWA teams including those on the front lines. The past while recorded an increase in the denial of humanitarian access & attacks on humanitarian workers and convoys.” Digital sent a press query to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs about Lazzarini’s complaints. Touma, the UNRWA spokeswoman, said, “I’m not sure if the government of Israel responded” to Lazzarini’s X post. In January, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel over accusations that his agency’s workers participated in the Hamas-run massacre of nearly 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7. Hamas murdered over 30 Americans during the invasion. Katz said Israel would no longer be meeting with UNRWA head, Lazzarini, with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel on Wednesday,” Katz wrote, adding. “UNRWA employees participated in the massacre of October 7.” Israel is slated to launch an incursion into the last major bastion of Hamas control in the city of Rafah, where Hamas mastermind terrorist Yahya Sinwar has reportedly as human shields.

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