Report debunks Israel's claim of tunnel beneath desecrated Gaza graveyard

A skull is seen on a Palestinian cemetery in Khan Younis, Gaza, on January 27, 2024. (Photo/AP)

An investigation into a cemetery desecrated by the Israeli military in besieged Gaza has shown no evidence of a tunnel system that Israel claimed ran under the burial site, according to US broadcaster CNN.

Israeli military officials released a video on Monday of the desecrated Bani Suheila cemetery near Khan Younis in the south of the blockaded enclave.

The military claimed there was a 65-foot-deep tunnel that was one-half-mile long beneath the graveyard, but CNN was denied access to the alleged tunnel when it asked.

Instead, it gave CNN a tour of the site near the cemetery, which officials said led into the tunnel system and underground command centre, but there was no evidence that the tunnel below the cemetery existed.

The Israeli military released drone footage that showed two other tunnels near the cemetery but did not provide video of the tunnel shaft inside the enormous hole where the cemetery was destroyed, despite telling reporters they would provide the video.

It told CNN it could not take its crew into the tunnel system they claimed emerged inside the cemetery because military officials said there was sensitive machinery underground and the structure was unstable.

CNN used satellite imagery to locate the underground part of the system that Israel claimed Hamas used but found that neither of the tunnel entrances was in the cemetery grounds.

A Palestinian boy walks inside a makeshift cemetery where people killed in Israeli bombing are buried in shallow tombs, in Gaza City's Al Sahaba Street, on January 9, 2024. (Photo/AP)

But the military issued a statement that said the tunnel ran directly through the religious site, even though the military released a map that showed the alleged Hamas command centre was outside the graveyard.

Military officials only showed CNN what it claimed was a Hamas battalion commander's office at the end of one section of the alleged tunnel, which had two large rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen.

They said the rooms had electricity, plumbing and telecommunications, but CNN only saw a dark room during the tour.

A source at Gaza's ministry of religious affairs told the AFP news agency that Israel "stole bodies them from Bani Suheila cemetery, east of Khan Younis" as well.No specific answer

Despite multiple requests to see the underground site, CNN was denied access and only given an explanation by military officials as to why they destroyed the cemetery, making reference to Hamas using the alleged tunnel system during the October 7 surprise blitz.

"My forces — at the beginning, we tried to flank this area — were fired from this area, again, and again," said Goldfuss.

"They couldn't understand why. Once we…found the military compound underneath the graveyard, we took all the measures to attack that compound."

The military said it subsequently bulldozed and excavated that part of the cemetery it claimed Hamas used, where dozens of graves once stood.

When asked what was done with the bodies that were buried, it did not give a specific answer.

"We try and move them aside as much as we can, as much as possible," said Goldfuss. "But remember, this place, when you're fighting here, and your enemy is flanking you again and again and again using these compounds to hide in, there's not much you can do."

According to international law, an intentional attack on a cemetery could amount to a war crime.

The military maintained that "the heavy damage to the cemetery was necessary" to uncover what it claimed was a tunnel beneath the surface.

CNN reported that 16 Gaza cemeteries have been either damaged or destroyed since the beginning of the war.

The military has not yet accounted for the destruction of other sites.

CNN also previously suggested that the Israeli army may have rearranged weapons the IDF claimed to have found inside Al Shifa Hospital when they raided it.

The IDF said then they found an AK-47 rifle behind the MRI machine, but when Fox News and BBC were allowed to report from inside the hospital, it appeared they found two.


Source: TRT