Israel Defense Forces revealed on Sunday evening additional intelligence gathered over the last week about a significant Hamas terror facility hiding under UNRWA buildings.
The intelligence was hinted at during the publication regarding the tunnels in which hostages were held, with the IDF stating that more information would be forthcoming.
Over the last two weeks, IDF and Israel Security Agency (ISA) forces have been conducting division-level targeted raid on terror targets in northern and central Gaza.
Operating in the areas of Shati and Tel al-Hawa in northern Gaza, the forces discovered a tunnel shaft near a UNRWA school. The shaft led to an underground terror tunnel under UNRWA's main headquarters in the Gaza Strip.
The tunnel was 700 meters (2,297 ft) long, 18 meters (60 ft) deep and contained several blast doors. Inside the tunnel system, the IDF found a Hamas data center with an electrical room, industrial-grade uninterrupted power supplies (UPS), server racks and living quarters.
The location of the intelligence facility appears to have been specifically chosen based on the presence of the UNRWA facilities above ground.
A wide variety of intelligence assets were seized during the operation, which the IDF says should allow the forces to operate against additional Hamas targets.
IDF troops discovered that electrical infrastructure inside the tunnel connected to UNRWA's main headquarters, under which the underground tunnel was located, indicating that UNRWA's facilities supplied the tunnel with electricity.
Based on ISA intelligence and these findings, Israeli forces conducted a targeted raid on UNRWA’s central headquarters, which contained offices for various humanitarian and international organizations. Inside the offices and rooms, they discovered large quantities of weapons, including rifles, ammunition, grenades and explosives.
In addition, intelligence assets and documents discovered in the offices of UNRWA officials confirm that the offices had been used by Hamas terrorists.
Approximately 120 Hamas terrorists were eliminated, and 20 terrorist infrastructure sites were destroyed as part of the operation.
Shortly after the findings were revealed, UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini published a tweet: “UNRWA did not know what is under its headquarters in Gaza.”
He also wrote that “UNRWA is a human development and humanitarian organisation that does not have the military and security expertise nor the capacity to undertake military inspections of what is or might be under its premises.”
The offices of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) responded to Lazzarini’s tweet with a post of its own, contradicting his statement.
Oh, you knew.— COGAT (@cogatonline) February 10, 2024
Digging a tunnel takes longer than 4 months.
We invited senior @UN officials to see, and during past meetings with you and other UN officials, we stated Hamas’s use of UNRWA's headquarters.
You chose to ignore the facts so you can later try and deny them. https://t.co/EIliKpDi5h
Newly-appointed Foreign Minister Israel Katz also slammed Lazzarini’s claim of ignorance as “not only absurd but also an affront to common sense.”
The exposure of @UNRWA's Gaza headquarters' deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action. @UNLazzarini's claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His… https://t.co/rINlPbsKVn— ישראל כ”ץ Israel Katz (@Israel_katz) February 10, 2024
Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan blasted Lazzarini for failing to take responsibility for the situation. He stated that Israel provided evidence of Hamas tunnels under UNRWA facilities to the body, but that it refused to act on that intelligence.
“Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa. Anything the UN says or claims about Gaza cannot be trusted,” Erdan wrote.
.@UNLazzarini it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did… https://t.co/bJsD66OwoO— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) February 10, 2024
Both Erdan and Katz called on Lazzarini to resign immediately.
Israeli Knesset Member Zeev Elkin, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Policy and Information, claimed that UNRWA is part of the Hamas government of Gaza.
"UNRWA serves as one of the arms of Hamas' civilian government in Gaza, and its facilities have become bases for storing weapons and building Hamas terror tunnels," he said.
Israel has made repeated complaints about UNRWA over the years, however, the UN body has largely ignored those complaints or conducted very limited investigations, often carried out by people with a history of anti-Israel sentiments.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.