The Gaza director of UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, has been called in for consultation with his bosses in Jerusalem after causing an uproar with comments on last month’s fighting in Gaza, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 News on May 22, UNRWA Gaza chief Matthias Schmale said he did not dispute Israel's assertion that its air strikes on Hamas terrorist targets in the Strip were "precise".
The comments resulted in protests in Gaza, with Hamas ridiculing Schmale as "a spokesman for the Israeli military", according to Reuters.
Schmale, who is based in Gaza, has apologized for his remarks and said that "precision was there but there was unacceptable and unbearable loss of life on the civilian side".
Sami Mshasha, UNRWA's spokesman in Jerusalem, said on Wednesday Schmale and his deputy had been "called in for consultation and discussion at the Jerusalem headquarters over the latest developments in Gaza".
Another official told Reuters that Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth would temporarily lead the Gaza team.
Created in 1949, UNRWA supplies aid to more than three million of the five million registered “Palestinian refugees” in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and territories assigned to the Palestinian Authority.
However, it is also notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.
Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.
UNRWA’s textbooks have been revealed to include hate speech and violence against Israel. In April, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning UNRWA for the textbooks.