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UN Human Rights Chief: Gaza is a 'Toxic Slum'


A Palestinian man reads the Koran inside a tent during the holy month of Ramadan, at a protest camp near the Israel-Gaza border in the central Gaza Strip, May 17, 2018.

The United Nations human rights chief has slammed Israel for the systemic deprivation of Palestinian human rights.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said Friday at a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to discuss "the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories" that 1.9 million people in Gaza are "caged in a toxic slum from birth to death."

The special session could establish a commission of inquiry into the violence along the Gaza border that escalated this week, leaving more than 60 people dead and 2,700 injured.Among the dead were women and children - including an 8-month-old girl.

The Israeli ambassador to the U.N. human rights council said a commission investigating Gaza violence "won't change the situation on the ground one iota."

The protest escalated Monday as the U.S. opened its embassy in Jerusalem.The demonstrators charged fences separating Gaza from Israel, tearing down sections of the wire barrier and throwing rocks.

Israeli forces fired into the crowd. Tear gas was lobbed over the border and rained down from drones overhead.Nearly 60 demonstrators were killed on Monday alone.

U.N rights chief Zeid said the protesters' "actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force."He said Israel's response to Gaza was "wholly disproportionate."

The International Criminal Court, the world's permanent war crimes court expressed "grave concern" earlier this week about the escalating violence in Gaza and said alleged crimes could be investigated.

"Nobody has been made safer by the horrific events of the past week," Zeid said at the human rights council."End the occupation and the violence, and insecurity will largely disappear."

In another development, Egypt has announced the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the entire Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi announced on Twitter that the opening would "alleviate the burdens of the brothers in the Gaza Strip."

The Rafah crossing is Gaza's main outlet to the outside world, but only has sporadic openings.

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