The UNRWA Zaitoun Preparatory Boys’ School “A” and Elementary Boys’ School “A” was one of two of the organization’s facilities damaged during the 11-day Gaza war that ended on May 21.
A team of experts from the UN Mine Action Services (UNMAS) had arrived at the school in order to ensure the area was clear of unexploded munitions so that the school could begin its academic year safely.
As soon as Hamas learned that the team was at the school, police arrived at the scene and requested that the team leave immediately. The team subsequently canceled its plans for an additional examination at a school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip where a tunnel was also suspected to have been dug under a UNRWA school, according to KAN.
Due to the actions by Hamas, UNRWA informed the terrorist organization that the two schools, serving about 4,000 students, would not be allowed to open unless UN teams are allowed to visit the sites.
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) August 10, 2021
“4,000 Palestinian kids can’t go to school because of Hamas! The international community cannot ignore Hamas’s heinous human rights violations & the state of terror it inflicts on Gazans. Hamas is a terror organization that uses innocents & children as hostages & human shields,” wrote Erdan on Twitter.
UNRWA said that the tunnel was not connected to the school. There is no “indication of the existence of any entry or exit points for the tunnel within the premises,” it added.
“UNRWA condemns the existence and potential use by Palestinian armed groups of such tunnels underneath its schools in the strongest possible terms. It is unacceptable that students and staff be placed at risk in such a way,” the organization stated.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.