After 15 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded in an assault on a school being run as a shelter in the Gaza strip, Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, broke down in an interview on a television channel.
The UN has blamed Israel for the attack.
In a statement later, Mr. Gunness said that “It’s important to humanize the statistics and to realize that there is a human being with a heart and soul behind each statistic and that the humanity that lies behind these statistics should never be forgotten.”
Mr. Gunness must be suspended, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor has said, on the basis of a tweet that suggested reporter’s interview a professor described as a supporter of Hamas.
In a letter of complaint, the Israeli official has written, according to some reports, that Mr. Gunness has exhibited “an ongoing pattern of anti-Israel bias.”
Some 3,300 Palestinians, including many women and children, were taking refuge in the Jabalya Girls Elementary School when it came under fire, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said.
The Jabalya School’s precise location and the fact that it was sheltering thousands of displaced people had been communicated to the Israeli military 17 times, with the last notification just hours before the fatal shelling, said UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 1,323 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since Israel began its offensive on July 8 with the declared aim of halting cross-border rocket fire. Ninety-six Palestinians were killed on Wednesday alone.
On the Israeli side, 56 soldiers and three civilians have been killed. Public support remains strong for continuing the military operation in the hope of preventing future flare-ups.
The army has said the main mission of its ground incursion is to locate and destroy tunnels that militants have built under the frontier and have used to launch attacks inside Israel.