February 12, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Data Center Found Under UNRWA Headquarters

February 12, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Data Center Found Under UNRWA Headquarters

Latest Developments

Israeli forces last week uncovered a Hamas data center housed underneath the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza City. The center included a large room with computer servers and industrial batteries used to support Hamas’s infrastructure for intelligence gathering, data processing, and communications. “This place is one of the Hamas intelligence units, where they commanded most of the combat,” an Israeli lieutenant colonel explained. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also revealed that Hamas ran communications cables through the floor of the UNRWA headquarters.

UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini responded on X, “UNWRA did not know what is under its headquarters in Gaza.” But the commander of Israel’s 401st Armored Brigade, Col. Benny Aharon, said, “There is no doubt that UNRWA staff knew that [Hamas] was digging a massive tunnel beneath them. There’s a perimeter wall, a gate, cameras, at the gate they log who comes in and out. Whoever worked at UNRWA knew very well who was coming in, and who they were covering for.”

Expert Analysis

“UNRWA did not just subsidize Hamas in Gaza; it collaborated with Hamas in Gaza. The evidence suggests direct material support to terrorism.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Evidence collected during this war and previous conflicts demonstrates that Hamas is willing to use any means at its disposal to protect its assets from potential Israeli attacks, including using civilians, hospitals, and UNRWA facilities as shields. As the IDF advances in Gaza, more evidence of Hamas’s exploitation of civilian infrastructure will likely come to light.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Support for UNRWA Waning

On January 26, UNRWA terminated the contracts of 12 staff members who allegedly participated in Hamas’s October 7 massacre. Yet Israeli intelligence believes 10 percent of the agency’s 13,000 employees in Gaza are affiliated with a terrorist organization. Consequently, more than a dozen countries, which contribute nearly half of UNRWA’s annual budget, have partially suspended funding to the agency. UNRWA warned that the lack of funds may force it to shut down its Middle East operations by the end of February.

UNRWA has come under fire before for allegedly turning a blind eye to terrorist activities. For example, in 2014, part of the parking lot of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters began to sink “likely from a Hamas tunnel dug beneath,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “No one talked about what was causing the collapse, but everyone knew,” a former UNRWA official said.

Close Down UNRWA,” by Richard Goldberg

Israel: Find UNRWA Successor Now,” FDD Flash Brief

UNRWA Exposed,” by Richard Goldberg

U.S. Funding to UNRWA Still Flowing,” FDD Flash Brief


International Organizations Israel Israel at War