GENEVA: Israel has systematically deprived Palestinians of their human rights, with 1.9 million in Gaza “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death”, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Friday.
Opening a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council that could set up a commission of inquiry into recent violence, Zeid sharply criticized Israel, saying its security forces had killed 60 Palestinians last Monday alone.
“Nobody has been made safer by the horrific events of the past week,” he said. “End the occupation, and the violence and insecurity will largely disappear.”
Tens of thousands have protested along Gaza’s border with Israel since March 30 calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to return to their homes now inside Israel.
The largest demonstrations coincided with the move of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday, which saw Israeli forces kill some 60 Palestinians.
The protests, which have seen unsuccessful attempts to break through the fence, have dwindled since Monday, and the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on Thursday may further dampen interest.
Friday – the day protests usually peak – will be a key test of whether the current round of unrest will continue.
The demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas officials have said they want them to continue.
Israeli forces have killed some 116 Palestinians since the protests began, with one Israeli soldier reported wounded.