ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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‘Oh, you knew’: Israel says UNRWA ‘chose to ignore facts’ after Hamas top secret center found under Gaza HQ

Israeli soldiers take position as they enter UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City where the military discovered tunnels and a secret data center underneath the UN agency, February 8, 2024. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
Israeli soldiers take position as they enter UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City where the military discovered tunnels and a secret data center underneath the UN agency, February 8, 2024. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, known by its acronym COGAT, hits back at UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini after he claimed the agency “did not know” of a Hamas top secret data center discovered under the Gaza headquarters of the UN body.

“Oh, you knew,” tweets COGAT, in response to Lazzarini’s long post denying any knowledge of the tunnel or the subterranean data center. The UNRWA head claimed that Israel has “not informed UNRWA officially” about the discoveries, and said UN staff left the Gaza headquarters four months ago as Israel launched its military campaign in Gaza, triggered by the October 7 Hamas killing spree.

“Digging a tunnel takes longer than 4 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,” COGAT writes.

“You chose to ignore the facts so you can later try and deny them,” it says to Lazzarini.

Israel’s English-language government spokesman Eylon Levy tweets: “They knew, and they didn’t find out from the media. Israeli authorities invited @unrwa leadership to tour the Hamas Server Farm under UNRWA HQ in Gaza City. Lazzarini ignored the invitation.”

The subterranean data center, seen by The Times of Israel’s military correspondent on Thursday, included an electricity room, industrial battery power banks, and living quarters for Hamas terrorists operating the computer servers.

The IDF said electrical cables led directly from the UN building to the tunnel and were providing power to the Hamas infrastructure belowground.

Israeli soldiers stand at the entrance of a tunnel outside the compound of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) in Gaza City, February 8, 2024 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

UNRWA and its activities have come under increased scrutiny after Israel released findings that at least 12 of its staff took part in the October 7 attack, and that hundreds of members have ties to Hamas.

The agency has faced a funding freeze by major government donors and calls to disband.

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