It's rare for a United Nations spokesman - and an Englishman at that - to break down in tears on camera. But that's exactly what Chris Gunness did at the end of an Al-Jazeera interview.
One day removed from the emotional display, Gunness told CBS News that while the public tears were embarrassing, he hopes it brought attention to the deaths of innocent children in Gaza.
"My tears are completely irrelevant but if my crying focuses world attention on the tears that are shed in Gaza and indeed shed by civilians elsewhere in the conflict like in Israel, then I don't think that rather ... emotional outburst and slightly embarrassing outburst was actually in vain," he said.
Gunness, a former BBC correspondent who works for the U.N. refugee agency UNRWA, spoke a day after tank shells slammed the walls of a U.N. school crowded with war refugees, killing 19 people and injuring more than 100. The attack on the U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp was the second deadly strike on a U.N. compound in a week.
Gunness said that UNRWA is overwhelmed trying to help more than 235,000 people who have fled to U.N. facilities seeking safety - but safety is hard to find.
"Gaza is unique in the annals of contemporary warfare in being a conflict with a fence around it," Gunness said. "So now that U.N. facilities are being hit, not only is there nowhere to run, there is nowhere to hide and that is an extremely worrying development."
Earlier Thursday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes in the current Gaza fighting. More than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 250 children, and 59 Israelis, mainly soldiers, have been killed in the latest violence, according to Gaza health officials.
Gunness is particularly dismayed that children - who he said make up more than half the population of Gaza - are being victimized even though they have never voted in an election or expressed a political opinion.
"Why should they be punished? Why should they be deprived of their future because of policies that governments take towards the politicians in Gaza?" he said. "It's a collective punishment and it has to end."
Israel points to Hamas' use of schools and hospitals as places to store weapons and ammunition, a fact the U.N. cited in their criticism of the Palestinian group, as the reason for their targeting.