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UNRWA's Gaza chief summoned after calling Israel strikes 'precise'

Members of the Union of Arab Employees gather for a demonstration outside the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza City on 31 May 2021 to demand the expulsion of its Gaza director of operations, Matthias Shmale, over his remarks on the recent conflict between Israel and the Gaza-based Islamist Hamas movement. [MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images]
Members of the Union of Arab Employees gather for a demonstration outside the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza City on 31 May 2021 to demand the expulsion of its Gaza director of operations, Matthias Shmale, over his remarks on the recent conflict between Israel and the Gaza-based Islamist Hamas movement. [MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images]

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on Wednesday summoned the director of its operations in the Gaza Strip, Matthias Schmale, over statements describing Israel's missile strikes on Gaza as "precise".

On Sunday, Schmale told Israel's Channel 12 that the Israeli 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, adding: "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 whom 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.

The remarks were heavily criticised by Palestinian civil society organisations who described them as "misleading and dangerous".

READ: 'Most of them died whilst they were sleeping', Gaza doctor recalls the destruction

Meanwhile, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas described Schmale's comments as having "provided justification for the Israeli aggression" on Gaza.

A spokesman for UNRWA in Jerusalem, Sami Mshasha, told Anadolu that Schmale and his deputy had been "called in for consultation and discussion at the Jerusalem headquarters over the latest developments in Gaza", adding that Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth would temporarily lead the Gaza team.

Schmale has apologised for his remarks saying "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."

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