Directly beneath UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters, IDF uncovers top secret Hamas data center
The Israeli military revealed that Hamas hid its most important asset under the Gaza Strip headquarters UNRWA (the controversial United Nations agency for Palestinian Refugees), a controversial UN agency.
The data center was constructed in a location that Israel would never consider targeting, even if it were to look at the site. It included an electrical room, industrial batteries, and living quarters where Hamas terrorists who operated the computers lived.
The server farm revelation comes amid other allegations of UNRWA collusion and involvement with the Gaza terror group.
Israel accused 12 employees of the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency last month of participating in the Hamas-led terror attack on October 7, which killed 1,200 and held 253 hostages.
UNRWA’s top donors have announced funding freezes since the allegations were made public last month. This has led to fears that the agency may cease operations in Gaza and other parts of the Middle East in the coming weeks.
The IDF’s discovery of a Hamas data centre at a time when UNRWA has been under increasing scrutiny seems to be just a coincidence.
UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City are located in the upscale Rimal district, an area where the IDF previously operated, dismantled a local Hamas battalion, and withdrew its troops.
The military did not know much about Hamas’ data center when it launched the first ground offensive against Gaza City. New intelligence, mostly derived from Shin Bet’s interrogations with captured terrorists helped pinpoint the exact location of the data center.
“The IDF has been here before, but the first time it was to destroy the enemies. But when we came back the second time, we collected intelligence documents, findings and a large number of prisoners and this is how we got here.” We have now carried out a targeted attack to remove this capability,” said Col. Benny Aharon of the 401st Armored Brigade during a Thursday media tour.
We needed more information. “We had some basic information but it wasn’t enough to dig 20 meters down and find the evidence. We get information from the prisoners we capture, computers we find and documents or maps, he explained.
In recent weeks, the IDF has carried out smaller operations on the northern Gaza Strip after the initial ground offensive largely destroyed Hamas’s combat capabilities.
Col. Nissim Hazan is a senior officer of the 401st Brigade. He said that the IDF could now conduct raids using a much smaller number of forces for operations which “require much more research, much more time and a great deal more patience.”
Aharon noted that there is still a danger in these raids. Two soldiers under his command were killed during the operation to reach Hamas’ data center – Maj. (res.) Yitzhar Homan, a commander with the elite Shaldag unit of the Israeli Air Force, and Maj. David Shakuri — the deputy commander of Combat Engineering Corps 601st Battalion – were both killed by sniper shots.
Hazan, the man in charge of coordinating the underground operations for the brigade, revealed that the main entrance was under an UNRWA school. Hamas had already blocked it off when troops arrived. Instead, the combat engineers dug around eight meters down to find the shallowest section of the underground passage.
The data center is a muddy, humid maze
The tunnel was opened up and journalists, along with troops from the elite combat engineering unit Yahalom, the Shaldag, and Hazan entered. We were told to remove our bulletproof vests due to the high humidity and the fact that Hamas had disabled all air filtering systems.
The first section of the 700 meter tunnel was relatively unremarkable. It consisted of a few dozen metres with the Hamas trademark concrete arches, and a sand floor. This is similar to the hundreds of kilometers underground passages that the terror group built throughout the Gaza Strip.
To keep the journalists on track and avoid getting lost, the soldiers placed neon glowsticks in the floor.
We followed the route until we reached a small opening. After climbing through it, a large hall with air conditioning, lighting, and wall tiles was revealed.
There were posters in the hallway bearing the Al-Qassam Brigades logo, Hamas’s military arm. Some of the posters also contained operational security instructions to the terrorists who managed the data center.
According to Hazan’s description, the Hamas IT staff and intelligence personnel would manage and supervise the data center in this section of the tunnel.
There were several rooms along the hallway. These included a kitchenette with a desk and chairs, a meeting area with two bathrooms, and a living room with a number of mattresses.
In the hallway, the troops also found several small mobility scooters that Hamas may have used to navigate the tunnels’ facilities easily.
Hazan told us, “Overhead is an UNRWA children’s school,” as we explored rooms in the main hall. This is the result of years of hard work and a lot determination.
A 300-meter passage connected the main hall to the nearby data center and electrical room.
Hazan explained, “We’re now crossing the main road at Rimal under several high-rise buildings.”
Due to the operations of the combat engineers, some parts of the tunnel did not have a typical concrete ceiling. This exposed the fragile sand.
As we crawled along the section, a Shaldag official warned us to keep our heads down and not touch the ceiling. We were careful to avoid causing the tunnel to collapse onto our heads.
Rainwater flooded into the tunnel as the combat engineers dug to reach it. We had to wade through knee-deep puddles to get to the data center.
The electrical room was the first major facility to be built in the tunnel after the flood sections.
The room was covered with mud, which included several electrical closets and power inverters, as well as dozens of industrial batteries that were off-grid.
The combat engineers dug 20 meters down from the courtyard, next to the main building, and a part of the ceiling had fallen apart.
Hamas’s data center was located at the heart of Hamas’s facility.
Each rack of computers was used by Hamas. There were about a half dozen rows of servers cabinets.
Hazan said, “We have reached the core of the secret…under the main UNRWA Building. Hazan stated that this is where Hamas’s intelligence servers were located. Hazan said, “to destroy it completely so that H