Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned Israel's offensive in Gaza as a "massacre" on Monday, joining international calls for a halt to the bloodshed.
"What's happening in Gaza is dangerous. I don't think it's a genocide, but I think it's a massacre," Rousseff said at a forum organized by newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, endorsing the United Nations' call for an immediate ceasefire.
"It's a humanitarian issue. This can't be done in such a small strip (of territory), with people who are in a situation of great insecurity, very threatened, with many women and children," she said.
"We know that in a war like this, the ones who pay are the civilians."
She criticized the Israeli campaign as "disproportionate" -- echoing a statement released by the Brazilian foreign ministry last week when it recalled its ambassador to Israel, a move that caused a row between the two countries.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor responded by calling Brazil a "diplomatic dwarf."
"I regret those words," Rousseff said. "Words, including the spokesman's, sometimes create a very bad climate. In this case, we have to be very careful."
More than 1,050 Palestinians have been killed in three weeks of devastating offensive in and around Gaza since Israel launched its onslaught, which it says aims to put a stop to Palestinian rocket fire.