Residents of the Gaza Strip expressed outrage after the director of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip told Channel 12 News on Saturday that IDF strikes in recent clashes were “precise.””I have the impression that there is a huge sophistication in the way the Israeli military struck over the last 11 days, so that’s not my issue,” said Matthias Schmale, director of UNRWA in Gaza, to Channel 12.
Schmale stressed, however, that while the strikes were precise, they were also exceedingly “vicious.”
“I’ve had many colleagues describe to me that they feel that, in comparison with the 2014 war, this time the strikes felt much more vicious in terms of their impact,” said the UNRWA director. “So yes, they didn’t hit, with some exceptions, civilian targets, but the viciousness, ferocity of the strikes was heavily felt.”
Schmale added that while at least 1,000 residential units were destroyed during Operation Guardian of the Walls, there is no current shortage of medicine, food or water.
“I think the precision was there, but there was unacceptable and unbearable loss of life on the civilian side,” said Schmale to Channel 12.
Gaza social media users expressed outrage at Schmale’s statements, calling for him to be removed from his position for saying that Israel didn’t target civilians.
“Matthias’s recent statements confirm that it is part of the aggression, and is not suitable for playing another role,” wrote Hamas-affiliated analyst Ibrahim al-Madhoun on Twitter in response to Schmale’s statements.Former IDF spokesperson for foreign media Peter Lerner responded to Schmale’s comments on Monday, tweeting “Thank you @matzschmale, @UNRWA for your candid interview w/ @arad_nir & for sharing your opinion that Israeli strikes were indeed precise, conducted with a huge sophistication, and huge ferociousness, but mostly not civilian targets.
Indeed all loss of civilian life is tragic.”In response to Lerner, Schmale stressed that “all loss of civilian life (on both sides) is not ‘tragic’ but unacceptable!” naming “occupation and blockade” as the underlying causes of the conflict.”Military precision & sophistication is no justification for war. Violence will not solve the underlying root causes, namely occupation and blockade,” tweeted Schmale on Monday.
Schmale’s Twitter feed has been largely absent of any explicit mentions or condemnations of Hamas, although he did call for “armed groups” in Gaza to stop firing rockets
on civilian populations.Pro-Palestinian activists and opponents to Israel’s actions during Operation Guardian of the Walls have claimed that Israel intentionally targeted civilians during the operation, despite statements by the IDF stressing that they took all efforts possible to avoid civilian casualties, including warning civilians ahead of strikes.