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Statement by UNRWA Director sparks outrage

Matthias Schmale: "Israeli army did not strike, with some exceptions, civilian targets."

Jerusalem24 – Right after his interview with channel 12, Matthias Schmale, Gaza Director of UNRWA was widely criticized for his statements he made to an Israeli channel about the accuracy of Israel’s operations and its avoidance of killing civilians, what the Palestinians considered bias of the killer against the victim. As he said that “He does not doubt the accuracy of the bombardment carried out by the occupation army on the Gaza Strip, and he sees high professionalism in the way the army bombed Gaza over the past 11 days.” He added, “The Israeli army did not strike, with some exceptions, civilian targets.”

Hamas demanded on Tuesday, an official apology to the Palestinian people, from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) after statements by the director of its operations in the Gaza Strip, which he made to an Israeli channel.

Hamas said in a statement: “We were shocked by the statements of Mr. Matthias Schmale, Director of UNRWA Operations in the Gaza Strip, to the 12th Israeli Channel about the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, where he appointed himself as a military analyst or spokesman for the occupation army.”

Adding: “Schmale justified the targeting of civilians and their homes, underestimated the losses, and praised the ability of the occupation army and its accuracy in hitting its targets.”

Hamas said, “We call for all UNRWA officials to abide by the mandate granted to them by the United Nations to perform their duty in the protection, relief and employment of refugees, and to take everything necessary to prevent this from happening again.”

UNRWA responded by publishing a statement on Tuesday afternoon attributed to the director of its operations in Gaza, in which he said that “the last remarks I made on Israeli television had offended and harmed those whose family members were killed and wounded during the war that had just ended.”

Schmale expressed his regret for this, and said, “The past two weeks have been horrific for Gaza and everyone who lives in it. I reiterate my condolences to the families who have tragically lost their loved ones. I also express my utmost respect and solidarity with my UNRWA colleagues and their families who have suffered tremendous pain and losses.”

“There is absolutely no justification for killing civilians,” the agency’s operations official Matthias Schmale said, adding that “precision and military sophistication can never be a justification for war.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Matthias Schmale

Schmale admitted, “The terror coming from the sky that the Gaza Strip witnessed amounts to a kind of collective punishment of the civilian population,” and said that this should not happen again.

In the same context, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said today (Thursday) that the international organization has not seen any evidence of the use of civilian buildings in Gaza that Israel bombed for military purposes.

There are also concerns that some attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza “targeted civilian objects that, under international humanitarian law, do not meet the requirements to be considered as military objectives.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                Michelle Bachelet

She said that the Israeli attacks raise serious concerns about Israel’s compliance with international law, stressing that “if such attacks are found to be disproportionate, they may constitute war crimes.”

Bachelet’s statements came during the opening of a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to discuss the formation of an international investigation committee on the abuses that accompanied the recent conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the systematic violations of human rights.


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