In a recent operation led by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), a significant discovery was made beneath the main headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza. Acting on intelligence from the Israel Security Agency (ISA), IDF forces uncovered a 700-meter tunnel belonging to Hamas, located 18 meters underground, equipped with multiple booby-trapped doors and electrical infrastructure directly connected to the UNRWA’s central offices.
This connection suggests that the tunnel, allegedly utilized by Hamas terrorists, was being powered by electricity provided by the UNRWA installation, which receives its energy from humanitarian aid sources and was recently accused of having members involved in the Hamas attack against Israel on October 7.
The interior of the tunnel houses a vast arsenal, including rifles, ammunition, grenades, and explosives, all concealed within office spaces of the building. Documents and intelligence retrieved from the site provided undeniable evidence of Hamas operatives’ use of the tunnel, raising serious concerns regarding security measures and oversight at UNRWA facilities.
Responding to these findings, Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, issued a statement emphasizing the agency’s ignorance of the tunnel’s existence beneath its central offices in Gaza. “UNRWA is primarily a humanitarian aid organization and does not possess the military and technical expertise in security to conduct inspections for military infrastructure,” he stated.
However, Lazzarini reiterated the organization’s protocol for conducting quarterly inspections at its facilities during periods of “non-active conflicts,” with the last inspection completed in September 2023. He also noted that UNRWA evacuated its headquarters on October 12, following Israeli evacuation orders amidst escalating bombardments. Since then, the agency has not utilized the compound nor been aware of any activity there.
The IDF’s revelation is expected to cause ripples within the UN in the coming days, as it is deemed a significant piece of evidence by Israel regarding the UN’s additional role in the region beyond its crucial humanitarian aspect.