December 21, 2023 | Flash Brief

IDF Uncovers Hamas Leadership Hub Under Gaza City

December 21, 2023 | Flash Brief

IDF Uncovers Hamas Leadership Hub Under Gaza City

Latest Developments

The Israeli military on December 20 said it had uncovered a web of tunnels underneath Gaza City used by senior Hamas leadership to traverse the enclave. Under the city’s main square, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) personnel discovered a “substantial, elaborate network of interconnected command control positions,” Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner explained in a press briefing. Footage published by the IDF shows a tunnel shaft in the home of the aide-de-camp to Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip. The shaft leads to a tunnel outfitted with electricity, a blast door, and weapons.

The IDF believes that Sinwar and Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif used the underground complex to direct operations on October 7. The men “could go to Shifa Hospital and exit in an ambulance ‘taxi’ to travel south and return to Shifa Hospital, enter the network to go south, north, and move up to the Rantisi Hospital area,” IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said.

Expert Analysis

“The images of this vast, sophisticated underground network for the exclusive use of Hamas elites are damning. These underground fortresses — intentionally placed underneath schools and hospitals — were built with resources stolen from the people of Gaza.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD Israel Program and National Security Network

“The discovery of the web of tunnels is not surprising. What is unsettling is the extensive allocation of resources by Hamas towards its tunnel project instead of utilizing them for the betterment of the lives of Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip. This clearly demonstrates that Hamas’s focus is not on the well-being of the Palestinians but solely on its own interests.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Hamas Tunnels

Hamas uses an extensive underground tunnel system to store and transport weapons, hold hostages, and move fighters undetected. Hamas diverts concrete and other materials meant for civilian projects to construct the tunnels, which cost approximately $3 million apiece and are equipped with electricity, plumbing, and telephone lines.

Hamas’s tunnels run for hundreds of miles underneath Gaza and across the borders with Egypt and Israel. The group has used the cross-border tunnels to infiltrate Israeli territory on multiple occasions. On December 17, the IDF said it had uncovered a tunnel over two miles long and wide enough to drive a vehicle through. Hamas reportedly used the tunnel, which is only a few hundred meters from the Israeli border, to transport terrorists, vehicles, and supplies during the leadup to October 7.

Tunnels Turn Civilians Into Human Shields

Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk admitted in October that the group’s tunnels are meant to protect its own fighters, not civilians, from Israeli aircraft. Protecting civilians “is the responsibility of the United Nations,” he said. Hamas’s tunnels frequently run underneath civilian infrastructure, violating international law. On October 27, 2023, an IDF spokesman shared evidence that Hamas hid tunnel entry points inside Gaza hospitals.

10 Things to Know About Hamas Tunnels,” FDD Insight

Seawater Flooding of Hamas Terror Tunnels Begun by IDF, U.S. Officials Say,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Member Admits It Uses Hospital as Command Center,” FDD Flash Brief


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