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Palestinian groups censure UNRWA chief’s praise of Israeli bombardment of Gaza

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinians inspect their house which was recently damaged by Israeli bombardments in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, May 26, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Gaza-based resistance groups, including Hamas, have slammed remarks by the director of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) who praised indiscriminate Israeli bombings of the besieged enclave as “precise” and “sophisticated.”

Appearing to justify the Israeli regime’s latest war on Gaza, the chief of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, Matthias Schmale, said during an interview with the Israeli Channel 12 on Sunday that “from my point of view there is a high precision in the Israeli army bombing during the past 11 days.”

“So yes they did not hit, with some exceptions, civilian targets, but the viciousness and ferocity of the strikes was heavily felt,” he added, ironically admitting that more than 60 children were killed, including 19 who went to a UNRWA school.

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

Condemning Schmale’s remarks, Hamas dismissed his claims in a statement as “a complete distortion in favor of the Zionists, including an attempt to exonerate the Occupation of the murder of 254 Palestinians, more than 40% of them children, women and the elderly.”

The resistance movement further reminded the UN refugee relief official that his job is to support the displaced and oppressed people, not to justify the murder of children and the destruction of homes, and demolishing health, educational and social facilities.

Other Palestinian rights groups followed suit on Tuesday and issued a joint statement protesting the claims made by the UN official, insisting that they “completely ignored the crimes committed during the latest Israeli offensive against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.”

They further blamed Schmale for “indirectly praising the precision and sophistication of the Israeli army, when Israel is in fact constantly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people.”

“Instead of calling to address the root causes behind the conflict, Mr. Schmale appeared to defend the actions of the Israeli military,” the statement added.

In total, Israeli bombardments killed 253 Palestinians in Gaza, including 66 children, between May 10 and 21, and wounded about 2,000 others, the Gaza Health Ministry has reported.

Nine high-rise buildings were flattened by Israeli airstrikes, including al-Jalaa tower, which housed the offices of numerous media production companies and news agencies, including the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and Middle East Eye, drawing condemnation from media and human rights organizations. 

Schmale issues apology

Reacting to the strong condemnation of his latest pro-Israeli claims, Schmale issued an apology on Tuesday, saying “military precision and sophistication are never a justification for war.”

“Recent remarks I made on Israeli TV have offended & hurt those who had family members & friends killed & injured during the war that has just ended,” he wrote on Twitter. “I truly regret to have caused them pain.”

However, some social media users also slammed Schmale’s apology – written in a series of eight tweets – for failing to refer to the Israeli regime by name and alluding instead to “the terror from the sky” to supposedly describe the war on Gaza.

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