The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have discovered a clandestine underground data center belonging to Hamas, located beneath the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip. Gaza devastated by war. The sophisticated server farm, equipped with an electrical room and housing for Hamas IT staff, was strategically located directly beneath the UN agency’s compound in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, the Times of Israel reported.
The military claimed that the room served as a feeding center for the tunnel infrastructure in the area. This covert facility was supposedly intended to protect the facilities from Israeli airstrikes and ensure their secrecy.
“Twenty meters above us is the headquarters of UNRWA,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ido, whose last name was withheld by the military. “This is the electrical room, you can see everything around here. The batteries, the electricity in the walls, everything is driven from here, all the power for the tunnels you walked through is powered from here.”
It did not definitively prove that Hamas militants operated in the tunnels beneath the UNRWA facility, but it did show that at least part of the tunnel ran beneath the facility’s courtyard, according to the Associated Press. The military claimed that the headquarters supplied electricity to the tunnels, the AP reported.
The head of the UN agency for Palestinian Refugees denied any knowledge of a Hamas data center beneath its headquarters in Gaza.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said the agency was unaware of the activity taking place beneath its facilities, stating that agency staff left the Gaza City headquarters in October following orders from Israeli evacuation amid escalating hostilities.
Lazzarini said UNRWA conducts regular inspections of its facilities in times “without active conflict,” most recently in September 2023.
“We have not used that compound since we left it nor are we aware of any activity that has taken place there,” the UN official said in a post on X.
“UNRWA is a humanitarian and human development organization that does not have the military and security experience or the capacity to conduct military inspections of what is or could be under its facilities,” he added.
Lazzarini highlighted the need for an independent investigation into the matter, citing UNRWA’s lack of experience and capacity to conduct military inspections.
The official further stated that Israeli authorities have not officially informed UNRWA about the alleged tunnel.
The accusation that Hamas was running a data center under the nose of UNRWA has added to growing concerns about the level of Hamas infiltration of the agency, according to the Times of Israel.
“Oh, you already knew that,” Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, known by his acronym COGAT, said in a post shortly after Lazzarini claimed ignorance.
“Digging a tunnel takes more than four months. We invited senior @UN officials to see, and during past meetings with you and other UN officials, we declared Hamas’s use of UNRWA headquarters. “You chose to ignore the facts and then try to deny them.”