"All of Gaza is an underground city, and the amount of infrastructure Hamas built up over the years is immense."
"There are tunnels, extended bunkers, weapons storage facilities, even within urban areas."
Captain Eytan Buchman, Israeli military spokesman
"The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,5000 internally displaced persons."
"UNRWA strongly and unequivocally condemns the group [Hamas?] or groups [go ahead, say it: H A M A S] responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law."
"Palestinian civilians in Gaza rely on UNRWA to provide humanitarian assistance and shelter. At all times, and especially during escalations of violence, the sanctity and integrity of UN installations must be respected."
"Immediately after discovery, the agency informed the relevant parties [Hamas] and successfully took all necessary measures for the removal of the objects [rockets] in order to preserve the safety and security of the school."
UN refugee agency UNRWA media statement
"I think even the [IDF and Israeli intelligence] didn't imagine how many tunnels Hamas had built during the years. They thought it was one, three, five tunnels -- but now we're talking about 'Underground Gaza'. It's amazing. They built Underground Gaza during the years."
"Instead, what they've done is they've stolen all the resources of the Gaza Strip and built something for their own safety and for violent action against Israel. It's very disturbing."
"The people of Gaza last voted for Hamas in 2006 ... because they wanted to punish [former leader Yasser Arafat's] Palestine Liberation Organization because of the corruption."
Shlomi Eldar, fellow, Wilson Centre, Washington
Mr. Eldar's familiarity as a journalist who covered the Gaza Strip for twenty years has acquainted him with Hamas's methodology. He wrote of what he knew in a book he published: Getting to Know Hamas. The diversion of cement and other building materials whose purpose was to rebuild homes, hospitals and roads resulted in the building of the notorious tunnel, instead. A network of tunnels with diverse purposes.
Tunnels meant to enter Israel, for military use, and of relatively recent vintage. The tunnels and safe rooms built by Hamas's leadership to protect themselves and their families from attacks represent yet another more recent purpose for tunnels. And then the third type that predated the other two primarily used to smuggle consumer goods, medical supplies and fuel, as well as the transport of arms. Tunnels proliferated as tensions between Hamas and Israel and Egypt rose.
The underground economy depended hugely on the avails of tunnel smuggling with two-thirds of all consumer goods in Gaza eventually transiting the tunnels, from building supplies to people, livestock, arms and fuel. Those smuggling networks provided Hamas with a handsome source of revenue since it levied taxes on everything passing through the tunnels, each year gifting them with hundreds of millions in 'taxes'.
Until the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which had supported its offshoot Hamas was removed from power and the new administration blocked the tunnels or flooded them, starving Hamas of the capital it required to operate, leaving it bankrupt, unable to pay its civil servants. And leading it to the resolution to provoke Israel into a confrontation over the incessant rocket barrages to create sympathy that would result from the deliberate exposure of Gaza's civilians by Hamas, to IDF return fire.
Israel began its defensive response to the rockets until it realized that the presence of all those tunnels were as much a threat as the rockets, and resolved to diminish their numbers in self-protection. The ground incursion was aimed directly at the destruction of the tunnels Hamas has used more latterly for attacks against Israelis, apart from the 2,000 rockets launched in the past several weeks.
Hamas now insists on the opening of the blockades by Egypt and Israel as a primary demand for a ceasefire. Which only demonstrates the delusional madness of the terrorist organization, insisting it be re-enabled to continue importing weapons and fighters and construction material to continue its underground economy and assaults on both Egypt and Israel. They have looted hundreds of millions that should have been used to put in place a civil society and advance prospects for Gazans.
Instead, they have delivered death and destruction for a people that still appears to believe that Hamas represents their best possible future, rather than a leadership that will take them to a civil future of security and prosperity. The 20 rockets stored at one of UNRWA's schools were handed by them over to the 'relevant authorities', meaning back to Hamas. The resounding stupidity of these actions are impossible to fathom.
In October of 2013 the Israeli military uncovered one tunnel stretching for 1.7 kilometres beneath the Gaza border which exited near a kibbutz. The cost of the tunnel was reported to be $10-million in building expenses, tall enough for someone to stand upright, lined with concrete and lit by electricity, including a communications network. Prompting Israel to halt all shipments of cement and other building supplies into Gaza. And now Hamas demands such shipments continue.
On Thursday the IDF thwarted yet another attempt by a group of terrorist to infiltrate Israel through one of the tunnels. As for UNRWA, Israeli officials' constant address of Hamas's use of schools, mosques and hospitals as storage depots for their rockets, and their penchant for firing from those buildings, has always fallen on deliberately deaf ears. Yet a 'routine inspection' by UNRWA revealed the presence of rockets, the second school in a week where rockets were discovered.
No doubt on the first occasion, UNRWA officials disapprovingly returned the rockets they discovered in the first school to the 'relevant authorities' which just happen to be Hamas, as well.