Beneath the Gaza Strip headquarters of the controversial United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, known commonly as UNRWA, the Hamas terror group hid one of its most significant assets, the Israeli military has revealed.
The subterranean data center — complete with an electrical room, industrial battery power banks and living quarters for Hamas terrorists operating the computer servers — was built precisely under the location where Israel would not consider looking initially, let alone target in an airstrike.
The Israelis knew before October 7 that Hamas had built tunnels under Gaza, but had no idea of their enormous size, depth, and extent. The IDF has now discovered that there are between 350 and 450 miles of tunnels under Gaza, a far more extensive network than had previously been believed. Israelis have also located at least 5,700 separate shafts leading to Hamas’s underground network, with more being unearthed by the IDF every day. The tunnels are far bigger than what Israel had believed: the IDF has been posting pictures of these mammoth tunnels, many of which are sufficiently wide to accommodate small trucks. The tunnels are built much deeper than the Israelis had assumed, to an average depth of 50 meters. At that depth they can withstand airstrikes, and have to be destroyed from within, which requires the IDF soldiers to go into the tunnels, filled with boobytraps and explosives left by Hamas, and sometimes with Hamas operatives lying in wait for them — a hellish undertaking, but not an impossible one. The IDF now estimates it has destroyed, or rendered inactive, between 20 and 40 percent of all Hamas tunnels, mostly in the northern Gaza Strip.
The revelation of the server farm comes amid other accusations of UNRWA collusion with the Gaza-ruling terror group and the entanglement of the UN body that provided welfare and humanitarian services for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars and their descendants.
Israel last month accused 12 staff with the UN Palestinian refugee agency of taking part in the October 7 massacre by Hamas-led terrorists, who killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages in the murderous rampage.
Since the allegations became public late last month, UNRWA has seen many of its top donor countries announce funding freezes, leading to concerns that the agency could stop operating in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East within weeks.
Israel’s first revelations about the 12 UNRWA staff members who took part in the atrocities were enough for sixteen countries to suspend their aid to UNRWA, which will not be renewed until UNRWA completes an investigation of itself, to determine how many of its staff are implicated in terrorism, whether by taking part in terror attacks, or praising and encouraging them, or knowingly allowing Hamas to use UNRWA schools, hospitals, and other facilities to hide weapons and combatants. If the investigation by UNRWA turns out to be insufficient, or even a whitewash, those countries will not resume that aid that UNRWA insists is “critical” for the people of Gaza.
But the IDF’s recent discovery of the Hamas data center while UNRWA is under increased scrutiny appears to be merely a coincidence….
UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters is located in Gaza City’s upscale Rimal neighborhood, an area that the IDF had previously operated in, dismantling the local Hamas battalion, and from which it had withdrawn its troops.
Acting on ISA intelligence, the forces discovered a tunnel shaft near a UNRWA school, leading to an underground terrorist tunnel beneath UNRWA’s main headquarters. The forces found electrical infrastructure inside the tunnel connected to UNRWA’s main HQ, suggesting it was supplying the tunnel with electricity—generated by the fuel provided through humanitarian aid….
UNRWA says it had “no idea” that a huge Hamas data center was located right underneath UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza. How likely is that? Didn’t anyone from UNRWA notice the unusually large amount of electricity that was supposedly being used by its headquarters, but which was also being used to fuel operations at the gigantic data center underneath? Surely this would have put UNRWA on notice that there was something going on below its Gaza City headquarters.
And what about the amount of water that Hamas’ data center used — water that came from the same pipes that supplied UNRWA’s headquarters? Either the electricity, or the water usage, or both, would have alerted UNRWA that there was a Hamas center underneath. Besides, UNRWA knew for years about the vast network Hamas’ tunnels. It knew about the nearly 6,000 entrances to those tunnels. It must have seen the heavy machinery being used to build those tunnels, the massive bulldozers, the trucks bearing away the mountains of earth that were being excavated. There is no way that Hamas could have hidden its gigantic Big Dig, carried out over many years and in every part of the Strip, from UNRWA. And surely the very best place for Hamas to place its data center, so critical to its war efforts, would be directly underneath UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza, always full of civilians whose presence would, Hamas assumed, have prevented Israeli airstrikes.
This vast area was not only the data center for Hamas, but also contained a treasure of information about the tunnel network, including their exact location, size, depth, and the placement of possible boobytraps and explosives. The IDF has been analyzing all this information, which should help it to uncover still more tunnels and entrances to them (5,700 of these have already been found by the IDF). Furthermore, it was also used as a weapons storehouse; with weapons hidden in the data center’s offices, all of which have now been removed by the IDF. Should we also ask UNRWA how it was that headquarters staff never noticed anyone entering or exiting the entrances to the underground data center? Or did those staff members notice, but were instructed never to discuss what they saw?
The discovery by the IDF of the Hamas data server facility directly underneath UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters is conclusive evidence that UNRWA was knowingly helping Hamas hide its men, weapons, command centers and data services. It will be fascinating to see how UNRWA attempts to convince its ever more doubtful donors that it simply had no idea that Hamas had these tunnels underground, and was shocked — shocked! — as much as anyone to discover that Hamas had built such a facility right under the innocent, unsuspecting noses of UNRWA’s staff.