UN official fired after condemning Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

Sarah Muscroft condemned Palestinian Islamic Jihad for “provoking Israeli retaliation” after last week’s Operation Breaking Dawn, arousing Palestinian fury.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The head of a UN office dealing with Palestinian affairs was fired from her position after posting a seemingly pro-Israel tweet following last week’s Operation Breaking Dawn, Times of Israel reported Sunday.

Sarah Muscroft, who led the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since January 2019, was denounced for her condemnation of terrorist rocket fire into Israel when praising the ceasefire.

“Relieved to see a ceasefire agreed ending hostilities impacting both Palestinians and Israeli civilians,” she wrote after the three-day round of hostilities against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) ended last Sunday night. “Such indiscriminate rocket fire of Islamic Jihad provoking Israeli retaliation is condemned. The safety of all civilians is paramount — the ceasefire must be upheld.”

Palestinians and their supporters slammed her for blaming the PIJ instead of Israel, which went on the offensive Friday before PIJ rocket units reached the Gaza border to shoot at Israel. In the 66-hour battle, the IDF assassinated the senior leadership of the Iranian proxy as well as the rocket teams, and destroyed multiple weapons caches.

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The PIJ, meanwhile, launched some 1,200 rockets into Israel, with about 200 of them landing short in the Gaza Strip itself, killing innocent civilians.

In response to the tsunami of criticism, Muscroft deleted her original tweet and wrote, “One of my previous tweets was ill-informed and I have deleted it. I sincerely apologize for my poor judgement. All civilians – everywhere – must be able to live in peace.”

Her Twitter account was closed shortly afterwards.

It seems that this was not enough of a penance, as an OCHA official told the Times that the veteran UN employee “will be assigned to a new role.” It is as yet unclear whether or not Muscroft will be transferred out of the region entirely.

Arsen Ostrovsky, human rights attorney and CEO of the International Legal Forum, one of the first to expose this story, told World Israel News: “The UN needs to make a decision: either they play a constructive role to advance peace in the region and support those most in need, or they become an outpost for Palestinian terror groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It appears they have made their choice.”

An unnamed Israeli official also blasted the UN’s conduct in the matter.

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“This is a case that illustrates the hypocrisy of the United Nations when it comes to Israel,” the official told Israel Hayom Sunday.

On Monday, the UN Security Council met in emergency session to discuss the skirmish, even though it had already ended. UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland also condemned the ““indiscriminate” rocket fire at Israel in his speech there, as Muscroft did, and “recognized” Israel’s “legitimate security concerns.” However, he then went on to imply that the IDF does not make every effort to prevent civilian casualties, a canard that Israel has disproven time and again.

“I reiterate that under international law, all use of force must be proportionate and take all feasible steps to avoid civilian casualties. Children, in particular, must never be the target of violence or put in harm’s way,” he said.

Several children died in a rocket strike that hit the Jabalya refugee camp during the operation. The IDF proved that the tragedy was the result of a PIJ misfire, as it had not acted in the area for hours and had video evidence of the launch.

Wennesland also angered Israel when expressing sympathy for a senior PIJ terrorist that Israel eliminated on the first day of the operation.

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Muscroft’s transfer evokes memories of the protests that ensued in the Gaza Strip after the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Matthias Schmale, told Channel 12 after last year’s Operation Guardian of the Walls that Israel’s military used “huge sophistication” in the way it targeted military targets rather than civilian ones.

He was not forced out of his job, leaving six months later for another post, but he did have to move out of Gaza to Jerusalem for his own safety.