John Ging, director of UNRWA's Gaza operations, was known as the 'Gazan' during his tenure in the Strip [EPA]

John Ging, the director of United Nations Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) operations in Gaza, and Barbara Shenstone, the director of operations in the West Bank, have resigned from their posts.

The agency issued a statement on Monday saying that the Ging will take up a position in New York, while Shenstone will return to her native Canada.

It is not clear what prompted Ging to take the decision, but it has been reported that he was under pressure over certain controversial comments he made on Israel and Hamas.

Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh, reporting from the West Bank, said that Ging was known as the 'Gazan' among residents of the strip.

"He was admired for never leaving the Gaza Strip, even in its darkest moments of internal strife and during the war," Odeh said.

"During his tenure, he has certainly upset Israel and many international partners, who fund the agency, for being unusually vocal in his criticism."

Odeh said that his relations with groups on the ground, including Hamas were "generally positive, though there were periods of tensions".

Filippo Grandi, commissioner general of UNRWA, paid tribute to the efforts of the two directors when she made the announcement to staff of the agency.

"Barbara and John have made exceptional contributions to UNRWA’s work under the most difficult circumstances," Grandi said

" ... their advocacy in support of rights has been outstanding – be it amidst heavy bombardment in Gaza during armed conflict or in responding to the abysmal rights abuses in the occupied West Bank."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies