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    Israel says it has found a Hamas tunnel under the headquarters of the UN aid agency in the Gaza Strip.

    An Israeli soldier lowers a camera into a hole in the courtyard of the UNRWA compound. Photo: AP/Ariel Shalit

    Israel says its forces have discovered a network of tunnels stretching hundreds of meters, partially running under the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza.

    Army engineers showed journalists an underpass and what they said was a terrorist processing center, weeks after countries including Britain suspended funding for the aid agency following allegations that 12 of its staff took participation in the Hamas attacks on October 7.

    UNRWA is headquartered in Gaza City, one of the areas where hundreds of thousands of civilians fled in the early days of the war as Israel advanced in the region.

    < p>Reporters entered a shaft next to a school on the periphery of the UN complex and descended to a concrete tunnel.

    A 20-minute walk through a stifling, hot, narrow and sometimes winding passage led them to UNRWA headquarters, said the Army lieutenant colonel leading the tour.

    An Israeli lieutenant colonel enters the tunnel under the UNRWA compound. Photo: AP/Ariel Shalit

    The corridor here is lined with posters bearing the logo of Hamas's military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

    There was an office with steel safes that were open and emptied. There was a tiled toilet. One large chamber was filled with computer servers, the other with industrial batteries.

    Israel Defense Forces officials say Hamas used the server farm for intelligence gathering, data processing and communications.

    “This is one of Hamas' intelligence units, where they commanded most of the fighting,” the lieutenant colonel said, giving only his first name, Ido.

    He said Hamas appeared to be evacuating in the face of the Israeli advance, preemptively cutting communications cables that he showed in the ground portion of the tour ran through the basement floor of UNRWA headquarters.

    Israeli soldiers inside what the army claims was a Hamas command tunnel. Photo: AFP Chairs and other items stored inside. Photo: Reuters

    UNRWA said in a statement that it left headquarters on October 12, five days after the war began, and was therefore “unable to confirm or otherwise comment” on Israel's findings.

    “UNRWA… has neither the expertise in military safety and security nor the capacity to conduct military inspections of what is or may be under its premises,” the statement said.

    “In the past, when (a) suspicious cavity was discovered near or under UNRWA premises, letters of protest were immediately sent to parties to the conflict, including both the de facto authorities in the Gaza Strip (Hamas) and the Israeli authorities.”

    Israeli soldiers use a camera to inspect the tunnel. Photo: Reuters

    Philip Lazzarini, UNRWA commissioner-general, “did not know what was underneath the [headquarters] in Gaza.”

    “These recent media reports deserve an independent investigation, which is currently impossible because Gaza is an active war zone,” he said.

    p>

    UNRWA supporters said it was the only agency capable of assisting Palestinians in their deepening humanitarian difficulties. Israel said the agency was “riddled with Hamas” and needed to be replaced. Hamas denies operating in civilian targets.

    Israel has been accused of falsifying information to smear UNRWA, which employs 13,000 people in the Gaza Strip and has been a lifeline for aid-dependent populations for years.

    p>

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