June 6, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Targets Hamas and Islamic Jihad Terrorists Hiding in UNRWA School

June 6, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Targets Hamas and Islamic Jihad Terrorists Hiding in UNRWA School

Latest Developments

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted a precision airstrike on Hamas terrorists hiding inside a central Gaza school operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on June 6. According to the IDF, the strike targeted 20-30 Hamas and Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorists who were hiding in three classrooms in the school in Nuseirat. The IDF said the school was used by Hamas’s Nukhba Force, some of whom participated in the October 7 atrocities in Israel. Besides the terrorists, the school was also sheltering displaced civilians. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said that the IDF took precautions to minimize civilian casualties, even postponing the strike twice. The Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza, which refuses to distinguish between terrorist and civilian casualties, claimed that at least 27 Palestinians had been killed. Later in the day, the IDF released the names of nine Hamas and PIJ members who were killed in the precision strikes. IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said during a press conference that Israel is working to identify additional terrorists who were killed. The strike comes after a June 4 IDF airstrike on a Hamas compound located inside UNRWA’s Abu Alhilu school in Bureij.

Expert Analysis

“UNRWA is a Hamas affiliate, plain and simple. Hamas turned a school into a terror headquarters and Israel carefully eliminated the terrorists while avoiding civilian casualties. It’s time to impose terrorism sanctions on UNRWA.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Time and again, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza have demonstrated that they will exploit any opportunity to act against Israel, whether it’s hiding in a UN facility, digging tunnels under hospitals, or concealing rockets in residential areas. The primary concern of Hamas and its allies is their survival, not the well-being of Palestinian civilians.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal 

Multiple Incidents of Hamas Terrorists at UNRWA Facilities

On May 5, Israeli planes destroyed a Hamas command center located in an UNRWA complex that the IDF and the Shin Bet intelligence agency said was used to stage multiple attacks against Israeli troops. On May 11, Israeli troops exchanged gunfire with numerous terrorists in an UNRWA aid distribution compound in eastern Rafah. The same day, Israel released an aerial surveillance video showing several armed Palestinians inside an UNRWA compound, with some of the gunmen standing next to vehicles with “UN” markings. On May 14, the IDF struck another UNRWA school in Nuseirat, killing 15 terrorists, including 10 Nukhba Force members, based on intelligence that Hamas was using it as a war room. On May 30, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) — the agency responsible for coordinating civilian policy inside Gaza and the West Bank — wrote on X that Israeli troops uncovered shafts leading to a network of Hamas’s tunnels inside an UNRWA school’s classrooms, as well as large quantities of weapons.

UNRWA’s Ties to Hamas

Israel has accused the UN agency — which is charged with maintaining the welfare of Palestinians UNRWA classifies as refugees — of collaborating with Hamas. The agency employs active Hamas members — including at least 15 UNRWA employees who played a direct role in the October 7 massacre — and ignores Hamas’s use of its facilities. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has said that Hamas is so integrated with UNRWA that “it is impossible to say where UNRWA ends and Hamas begins.” On May 29, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a preliminary bill to designate UNRWA as a terrorist organization.

Gaza Terrorists Exploit Two More UNRWA Facilities,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Strikes Hamas Command Center Under UNRWA Complex,” FDD Flash Brief

Turn-Key Alternatives to Replace UNRWA Immediately,” by Richard Goldberg and Bonnie Glick

Issues:

International Organizations Islamic State Israel Israel at War Jihadism