The United Nations' human rights chief issued a scathing critique of Israel's policy toward Gaza on Friday.
"They are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death," Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, said of the Palestinians living in Gaza during a special session of the UN's Human Rights Council, convened in the wake of Monday's deadly violence on the Israeli-Gaza border.
"Nobody has been made safer by the horrific events of the past week," Hussein said. "End the occupation, and the violence and insecurity will largely disappear."
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killed 60 Palestinian protesters in Gaza during a demonstration that followed weeks of protests marking the 1948 establishment of the Israeli state. It also coincided with the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Israel defended its actions, saying it had acted in self-defense and blamed the bloodshed on Hamas, the Islamist militant and political group that governs the Gaza Strip.
Israel's UN ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter called Zeid's words "politically motivated," adding that "the loss of life could have been avoided had Hamas refrained from sending terrorists to attack Israel under the cover of the riots, while exploiting its own civilian population as human shields."