The Israeli military claims that it has seized a subterranean data center operated by Hamas that was located under the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) headquarters.

The facility appears to be different from a separate alleged underground data center that DCD reported on last week.

The head of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini said that "UNRWA did not know what is under its headquarters in Gaza," and added that the reports merit an independent inquiry, “that is currently not possible to undertake given Gaza is an active war zone."

Earlier this year, Israel accused 12 UNRWA employees of taking part in Hamas’s 7 October attacks in Israel that killed 1,200 people. The government also claims that 10 percent of the agency's 13,000 employees are pro-Hamas and has called for it to be disbanded.

It has not shared any evidence to back up its claims. UNRWA fired those accused, and has launched an investigation. It said that Israel had frozen its bank account, embargoed aid shipments, and canceled its tax benefits.

Alleged Hamas Data Center
A screenshot from the IDF video – IDF

The Israeli army invited select journalists to visit the tunnel, including The Times of Israel. Media reports require approval from the Israeli Military Censor, making independent verification of the visit impossible.

In The Times of Israel piece, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the main entrance to the tunnel was located under a UNRWA school nearby. But they did not show that entrance, claiming that it was blocked off by Hamas.

Instead, they dug eight meters down to the tunnel on land not operated by UNRWA. Journalists traveled along this tunnel, eventually reaching an electrical room and a data center, with "about" six racks.

Col. Nissim Hazan told The Times of Israel: "We are now at the heart of the secret… under the main UNRWA building. Here is where Hamas kept its intelligence servers."

This allegation has not been verified - the journalists did not track their location or journey in relation to ground level, so it is not known if the facility was directly under the primary HQ.

The IDF did appear to confirm that it was nearby to the site, with soldiers drilling a 20m shaft in the headquarters' courtyard, where they said it reached the electrical room. Journalists did not travel through that shaft, and video footage is cut in a way that does not show where the tunnel originates.

The most explosive claim the IDF has alleged is that the Hamas data center is linked directly to a UNRWA server room, and that the Hamas site relied on UNRWA power.

That would mean that, instead of Hamas secretly digging beneath a site that was unlikely to be bombed and using it as a secure location, the two groups collaborated - with the UN agency digging its own ~20m hole to pass power and fiber cables through.

Core to this allegation, reported as fact by The Times of Israel, is a picture of roughly nine small cables running into the floor of the UNRWA server room, which has otherwise been stripped clean.

Data centers often use raised floors to put cables and other infrastructure under racks, but the UNRWA tiles look more like traditional floor tiles than liftable data center ones. The IDF did not pull the tiles up, or make an attempt to follow the route of the cables. They also did not show the other end of the cables, coming into the Hamas facility.

DCD has asked the IDF for comment and additional imagery. Update: When asked for evidence of the cables connecting the two data centers, the IDF told DCD: "We are unable to disclose operational procedures within the compound."

In the videos of the facility, a significantly larger number of cables are shown running along the tunnel into the electrical room from elsewhere, suggesting, at the very least, alternative power sources.

After UNRWA's Lazzarini said that he did not know about the tunnels under the HQ, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories replied on Twitter/X: “Oh, you knew.

"Digging a tunnel takes longer than four 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."

Lazzarini said that in the past the agency had filed “protest letters” to Hamas officials and Israeli authorities “whenever suspicious cavity was found close to or under UNRWA premises” and that the matter was “consistently reported” to the UN General Assembly.

The UNRWA building was evacuated on October 12, as the Israel-Gaza conflict began to ramp up. More than 29,000 people (27,708 Palestinian and 1,410 Israeli) have been killed since the war began, including 136 UNRWA aid workers and 85 journalists.

The conflict risks killing thousands more, including children. Consider donating to aid organizations today.