The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) coordinated and held a detailed briefing for an international group of journalists at the former headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) located in Gaza City, revealing what they described as a network of tunnels beneath the building which was utilized by Hamas. The IDF showed the reporters that these subterranean passages were repurposed as an electrical supply room, with the UNRWA compound directly providing the power.
This revelation unfolds against the backdrop of the war-torn Gaza Strip, drawing attention from around the globe as the attending journalists, initially invited last Thursday, were shown the intricate layout of the tunnels and their connections. Descriptions from the scene detailed a room filled with electrical cabinets, an array of buttons, and a maze of cables. Furthermore, an above-ground tour led the journalists to a computer room within the UNRWA building, showcasing wires that penetrated the ground, allegedly linking directly to the underground facility.
BREAKING: Terror tunnel discovered right below UNRWA HQ, hiding Hamas intelligence data center, with electrical room, industrial battery power banks, living quarters for Hamas server operators. Electric cables from UNRWA powered the Hamas servers. UNRWA chief: “We had no clue.” https://t.co/0Q7aoJ1WDb pic.twitter.com/IfIB0nhx61— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) February 10, 2024
Although the IDF's presentation stopped short of proving what Hamas used the space, it was evident that a segment of the tunnel network extended beneath the UNRWA premises, and that the cables and other wires were fed from the UNRWA facility into the tunnel, a fact corroborated by an Associated Press report. The IDF alleges that the tunnel was used as a server farm, among other things, and reporters were shown the are where server brackets and shelves, as well as some servers which were still connected. What was on the servers, however was not discolsed by the IDF. It is likely that Israel will be releasing more information as they investigate the data on the servers.
We are seeing why countries have suspended donations to @UNRWA: The IDF has released another batch of evidence demonstrating Hamas' use of UNRWA facilities. The IDF discovered a tunnel under UNRWA's main HQ in Gaza that served as a significant asset for Hamas. pic.twitter.com/WLnEGo2VPz— Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) February 10, 2024
The spotlight has intensified on UNRWA following Israeli assertions that approximately a dozen of the agency’s personnel were implicated in the October 7 terror attack, further accusing the humanitarian body of colluding with Hamas and serving as a veil for its operations. These grave accusations have prompted a reevaluation of support from some of UNRWA's principal international benefactors, including Canada, Germany, and the United States, all of which have temporarily halted new funding amid these allegations.
The Hamas tunnel found under the UNRWA HQ in Gaza yesterday, isn't the only thing UNRWA pretends "not knowing" about: despite Hamas has been stealing humanitarian aid for years, UNRWA only blamed Israel about that.— Shlomo Fishman (@shlomo_fishman) February 11, 2024
This video sheds some light about what UNRWA really knows.… pic.twitter.com/ymRQH9Gfc2
The discovery of the tunnels prompted Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, to acknowledge the organization's ignorance of the underground operations and to call for an "independent inquiry" into the matter. This stance was taken despite tangible evidence presented by independent journalists, demonstrating that the underground facilities were not only powered by the UNRWA headquarters but were also connected to the agency's internet network. The provision of such utilities would have necessitated the complicity of UNRWA staff and been quite visible to anyone who was in the room where the power and communication junction boxes were.
However, in trying to deflect from the obviously damning evidence against his agency, Lazzarini pointed out the challenges in launching such an investigation amidst the ongoing conflict. This situation places UNRWA in a precarious position, as it grapples with the ramifications of these revelations and the subsequent scrutiny from the international community, all while attempting to navigate the complexities of operating in a warzone.