WEST BANK (Dispatches) – Palestinian civil society organizations have condemned comments made by a senior figure at the UNRWA about the 11-day brutal bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip by the Zionist regime as “misleading and dangerous”.
Matthias Schmale, the director of operations for the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, told Channel 12 that the occupying regime’s military’s strikes on Gaza appeared to be carried out with “sophistication” and “precision”.
“I have the impression there is a huge sophistication in the way the Israeli military struck over the 11 days,” Schmale said. “Yes they didn’t hit, with some exceptions, civilian targets, but the viciousness, the ferocity of those strikes were heavily felt.
“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 added.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO) and the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations’ Council (PHROC) said Schmale’s comments “completely ignored the crimes committed during the latest Israeli offensive against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip”.
“It is regrettable that Mr. Schmale, who heads one of the most important international organizations responsible for protecting and advocating the rights of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, to provide statements 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,” the statement said.
“Instead of calling to address the root causes behind the conflict, Mr. Schmale appeared to defend the actions of the Israeli military.”
The statement said Schmale’s comments provide cover and legitimacy to serious violations committed by the Zionist troops.
According to Gaza health authorities, at least 253 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children, during the 11-day bombardment of the coastal territory. At least 12 people were killed in the occupied territories by retaliatory rockets fired by armed groups in Gaza.
Residents in Gaza have spoken of how civilian areas – including high-rise buildings, commercial centers and residential neighborhoods – were targeted by the Zionist regime’s warplanes.
In one case, at least 42 Palestinians were killed – including four generations of one family – when their homes were bombed in al-Wehda Street in Gaza City. The roads leading to the nearby al-Shifa Hospital were also targeted, obstructing the movement of ambulances and civil defense vehicles in transferring the wounded.
The statement described the Zionist regime’s “systematic targeting” of civilians, civilian buildings and infrastructure not as “military gains” but rather, “to collectively punish and terrorize the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, as it has done so over the last 14 years through the imposition of an illegal and humanitarian blockade, and the launch of three destructive and deadly wars”.