At an unmarked location in east London, Voices From The Tunnels was a week-long event that reported the inhumanity that Hamas is wreaking upon the hostages kidnapped from Israel on October 7th last year and who continue to be held in a network of subterranean tunnels. This horror story is ongoing for the 136 remaining hostages, not forgetting the continual anguish that their loved ones are suffering. Organised by the 7/10 Human Chain Project and working closely with Israel’s Hostages And Missing Families Forum the 7/10 team have aimed for authenticity in their displays, based upon a range of sources of evidence, including from a number of the hostages that Hamas have freed in recent months.
Entering a derelict warehouse, one is confronted with a row of hospital beds, a stark reminder that so much of the maze of Hamas’ tunnels has been constructed underneath Gaza's hospitals and other humanitarian sites such as places of worship and schools. Under the Geneva Convention such places should not be used deliberately for combat purposes, nor should civilians be used as human shields. But the world is already aware that Hamas cares little for the rules of war, with Voices From The Tunnels proving a testimony to the terrorists’ disregard for the sanctity of life. Walking past a scooter similar to that used in the witnessed-by-the-world kidnapping of Noa Argamani, one descends a damp staircase to the warehouse’s cellars...
These cellars are no fairground attraction, the damp and crumbling rooms having been painstakingly transformed into chambers of horror. We learn of 12 year old Eitan Yahalomi, forced in his captivity to watch a looping video of the atrocities of 7/10. Of Mia Shem whose injured arm (she was shot on 7/10) was operated on in the dungeons by a vet, without anaesthetic and of the appalling degradation meted out to the old and the young. The cellar's final tableau is of the sexual violence that Hamas has inflicted on the hostages, mostly (but not exclusively) upon the young women from Israel that have been held captive.
The scenes are horrific, but Aviv who was guiding my small party around the cellars told of even more harrowing detail. That of the women hostages released so far, three were found to be pregnant by their Hamas rapists and had been able to undergo abortions in Israeli hospitals. A number of young Israeli women remain held in the tunnels and a pervading fear (one of many) is that some of them too may be pregnant through rape and forced to take their pregnancies to full term. The barbarity of what is being perpetrated in the Hamas tunnels, like so much of the carnage of 7/10, defies comprehension.
A further sobering thought is that these tunnels, now identified by the IDF to criss-cross the length and breadth of the Gaza Strip, have cost millions of dollars to construct and be fitted out with utilities such as electricity and plumbing together with furniture. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) funds, together with cash from other sources, that should have been spent on improving Gaza’s social infrastructure – schools, hospitals and the like - has instead been diverted into building this fabric of terror.
One can only wonder to what extent UNRWA was aware of how its support was being used? In such a small enclave as the Gaza Strip, it defies belief that UNRWA was ignorant of such malevolent activity. With Hamas having vowed to repeat the pogrom of 7/10 again and again and with its founding charter calling for the eradication of Jews, it is hardly surprising that Israel is now seeking to destroy both Hamas’ fighters and its hundreds of miles of hellish tunnels and fighting capabilities.
UNRWA Update 29th January 2024
The article above was first published on 21st January 2024.
The news of recent days has reported that at least 10% of UNRWA employees have been found to be connected to Hamas, with a number of those having a direct involvement in the atrocities of October 7th. It is believed by many commentators that this figure of 10% is likely to be an understatement.