Palestinian Groups Criticize UNRWA Director’s Comments on Gaza Attacks

Palestinian Groups Criticize UNRWA Director’s Comments on Gaza Attacks

Palestinian civil society organizations condemned the comments made by a senior UNRWA official about the 11-day Israeli bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip as “misleading and dangerous”.
Matthias Schmale, director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, told Israel’s Channel 12 on Sunday that the Israeli army strikes on Gaza appeared be carried out with “sophistication” and “precision”.

“I feel like there is a huge sophistication in the way the IDF struck over the 11 days,” Schmale said. “Yes, they did not hit, with a few exceptions, civilian targets, but the wickedness, the ferocity of those strikes was strongly felt.

“More than 60 children were killed, 19 of whom went to UNRWA schools. So I think the precision was there, but there was unacceptable and unbearable loss of human life on the civilian side, ”he added.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and the Council of Palestinian Human Rights Organizations (PHROC) said Schmale’s comments “completely ignored the crimes committed during Israel’s latest offensive against human rights. Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip ”.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Schmale, who heads one of the most important international organizations charged with protecting and defending the rights of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, is making statements indirectly praising the precision and sophistication of the Israeli military, while ‘Israel actually does. constantly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people, ”the statement said.

“Instead of calling for addressing the root causes of the conflict, Mr. Schmale appeared to defend the actions of the IDF.”

The statement said Schmale’s comments provide cover and legitimacy for the serious violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces.

Gaza health officials said at least 253 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children, during the 11-day bombardment of the coastal territory. At least 12 people, including two children, have been killed in Israel by rockets fired by armed groups in Gaza.

Residents of Gaza explained how civilian areas – including high-rise buildings, shopping malls and residential neighborhoods – were targeted by Israeli warplanes.

In one case, at least 42 Palestinians were killed – including four generations of a family – when their homes were bombed on al-Wehda Street in Gaza. The roads leading to the nearby al-Shifa hospital were also targeted, hampering the flow of ambulances and civil protection vehicles during the transfer of the wounded.

The statement describes Israel’s “systematic targeting” of civilians, civilian buildings and infrastructure not as “military gains” but rather as “to collectively punish and terrorize the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, as it does. has done over the past 14 years through the imposition of an illegal and humanitarian blockade and the launch of three destructive and murderous wars ”.

Schmale apologized on Tuesday and said “military precision and sophistication never justifies war.”

“The recent remarks I made on Israeli television have offended and hurt those who killed and injured family and friends during the war that has just ended,” he wrote on Twitter. .

“I really regret causing them pain.”

Some social media users criticized the apology – written in a series of eight tweets – for not mentioning Israel by name and instead alluding to “terror from above” to refer to the Israeli strikes.

“In 8 tweets written by @matzschmale, he made no mention of Israel as responsible for its crimes in Gaza,” wrote Abdalrahim Abuwarda.

“He used a passive voice when he mentioned that there had been killings, although @UNRWA is officially working in the Gaza Strip and actually witnessing it all.”


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