Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
Gazan working in a smuggler tunnel

(Originally posted to the PreOccupied Territory website}

Khan Yunis, June 19 – United Nations officials issued harsh criticism of Israel today for the sorry state of wireless connectivity and reception in the tunnel Hamas uses to move men and materiel through the Gaza Strip.


UN Human Rights Council President Wai Fai of China, who holds the position on a rotational basis, called the failure of Israel to provide adequate mobile communications technology infrastructure for people moving through Hamas tunnels a violation of Palestinian rights. “We have the misfortune of being witness to yet another way in which Israel tramples the rights of Palestinians in Gaza,” said Wai.

Council representatives interviewed hundreds of Hamas operatives and forced child laborers in the tunnels over the last two years since the last round of fighting between Hamas and Israel, and found that conditions in the cramped tunnels have not improved. In many cases, said delegation spokesman Mol Ratt, the lack of wireless infrastructure has cost lives when tunnels collapsed on the fighters inside them and the trapped Hamas personnel were unable to signal for help, and those who were not crushed to death immediately were also rendered unable to play online games to keep occupied as they suffocated.

“It would have been more humane to enable the doomed people trapped in those tunnels to play, for example, Candy Crush,” explained Ratt. “But once again, we have gathered extensive evidence of Israel’s disregard for the needs of Hamas fighters.”

Even more egregiously, said Ratt, Israel collectively punishes all users of Hamas tunnels, not only the fighters who maneuver and train in them and the child laborers the organization forces to dig them. “The lack of adequate mobile communications infrastructure in the tunnels under Gaza also affects smugglers,” noted Ratt. “People who want to bring in luxury goods from Egypt instead of Israel, aside from having to brave the antipathy of Egyptian military and government authorities, are consequently deprived of access to their social media and news sources while underground. This so-called ‘collateral damage’ is thinly and flimsily veiled underneath Israel’s ostensible need to protect itself from attack.”

The UN panel’s criticism of Israel in this regard continues a similar rhetorical line to that adopted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who visited Israel in the aftermath of the 2014 war and was guided into one of the neutralized attack tunnels by IDF representatives. At the time, Ban voiced his sympathy for those who spent time in such cramped conditions.


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