Hamas slams UNRWA chief for saying IDF strikes were ‘precise’

UNRWA chief Matthias Schmale issues an apology after admitting on Israeli TV that IDF airstrikes on Gaza were ‘precise’ and ‘sophisticated.’

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The head of the United Nations body that provides services to the Palestinians was forced Tuesday to walk back comments he made about the accuracy of the IDF airstrikes on Gaza after the Hamas terror group accused him of pro-Israel bias.

In an interview on Israel’s Channel 12 news broadcast on Tuesday evening, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Matthias Schmale, was asked his opinion about the accuracy of IDF airstrikes on Gaza.

Schmale confirmed Israel’s claims that it took care to hit only military targets.

“I’m not a military expert but I would not dispute that,” Schmale said. “I also have the impression that there is a huge sophistication in the way the Israeli military struck over the last 11 days.”

“Yes, they didn’t hit – with some exceptions – civilian targets, but the viciousness, ferocity of the strikes was heavily felt,” he said.

Schmales’s comments brought a swift condemnation from the Hamas terror group, which sparked the 11-day conflict with an unprovoked rocket attack on Jerusalem on May 10.

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“We were amazed by Schmale’s statements on the Israeli Channel 12,” Hamas said in a statement. “His remarks reflect a marked bias in favor of the Israeli side.”

Hamas demanded that Schmale “apologize to the Palestinians for these statements, which include misleading information.”

A cartoon circulated on social media showed Schmale standing on a child’s toy atop the rubble of a building in Gaza while holding a baby bottle dripping blood with a dead girl beside him on the ground with the caption: “The Israeli attack was very accurate.”

With negative comments circulating online, Schmale uploaded a series of tweets to his Twitter account, apologizing for the remarks while claiming that nobody had “forced” him into issuing a clarification.

“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. I truly regret to have caused them pain,” Schmale tweeted. “No one has forced me into an apology.”

“Responsible leaders listen carefully to people they serve – in my case Palestine refugees; civilians, not political or military actors – and accept and correct errors of judgment,” Schmale tweeted.

While most of Gaza was untouched during the conflict, media reports focused on the piles of rubble of the Hamas-affiliated buildings destroyed by the IDF, which had first warned the occupants that an airstrike was imminent to allow them to evacuate the area.

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Despite the scenes of destruction, Schmale said that there was no humanitarian crisis as food, water and medical supplies were still coming across the border from Israel.

“There is no acute or serious shortage of medical supplies, food or water,” Schmale said.

Hamas claimed that 254 Palestinians were killed during the campaign, of whom 40% were children, but in previous wars with Israel Hamas had padded the statistics by including many of its fighters in the death toll.

The Hamas numbers appear to also include women and children killed by some of the thousands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets fired at Israel, some of which fell short and exploded in Gaza.

This included a rocket that terrorists launched from Gaza, which landed in the Jabalia refugee camp on May 11. A Palestinian children’s rights group admitted that the projectile “killed eight Palestinians, including two children.”

Schmale also said that despite Hamas having been caught in previous conflicts storing rockets and weapons in UNRWA buildings including at least three UNRWA schools, there was no evidence that they had done so in the latest fighting.