Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Sunday for the dismantling of the U.N. agency that aids millions of Palestinian refugees, accusing it of anti-Israeli incitement and saying he had conveyed his message to the USA ambassador to the United Nations. "This is the enemy that we have been fighting against for many years, an enemy that is committing a twofold war crime".
He said that during his meeting with the United State Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in Jerusalem last Wednesday, he told her that "it's time to dismantle UNRWA".
On Friday, UNRWA announced it had found a tunnel passing under two of its schools in the Gaza Strip and has complained to Hamas, the Palestinian faction in charge of the blockaded coastal enclave. On Saturday, Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon wrote a letter of complaint to the Security Council's president.
Netanyahu issued the call following the exposure of a Hamas terror tunnel running beneath two schools in Gaza run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency).
UNRWA has been the subject of considerable pressure in recent months.
"Hamas is using schoolchildren as human shields", the premier stated.
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"In December 2016, UNRWA's mandate was extended for three years by the General Assembly by a large majority", Gunness told Reuters in an emailed statement.
"The situation of Palestine refugees needs to be resolved as part of a political resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians".
UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness responded by saying UNRWA has a clear mandate set by the United Nations. "It is time for political action to resolve this longstanding crisis".
A spokesperson for Hamas denied any responsibility for the tunnel, stating that it "strongly condemned" the structure and observed that the revelations would be used by Israeli media and government policy agencies to justify the continuing apartheid-like conditions now being inflicted on Palestinians. "The construction and presence of tunnels under U.N. premises are incompatible with the respect of privileges and immunities owed to the United Nations under applicable global law, which provides that U.N. premises shall be inviolable". "The sanctity and neutrality of United Nations premises must be preserved at all times", it added. Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas doesn't have any "resistance-related works" in the area.
Dug some six to nine feet underground, the tunnel traverses underneath two boys schools and connects, according to the Times of Israel, a Palestinian community and a heavily fortified Israeli border wall.
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