More than 700 Palestinians were killed in overnight Israeli air strikes, Gaza's health ministry said, the highest 24-hour death toll since Israel began a bombing campaign to crush Hamas militants who stunned the country with a deadly Oct. 7 attack.
Guterres told the 15-member U.N. Security Council that at a "crucial moment like this," it was vital to be clear that war has rules, starting with the fundamental principle of respecting and protecting civilians.
"It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation," Guterres said.
"But the grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas. And those appalling attacks cannot justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people," he said.
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan described Guterres' speech as "shocking," and “disconnected from the reality” of his region.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Erdan wrote it was “unfathomable” and “truly sad that the head of an organization that arose after the Holocaust holds such horrible views.”
Reacting also via a post on X, Israel's visiting Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that he would no longer meet with Guterres later on Tuesday as planned.
"I will not meet with the U.N. secretary-general. After Oct. 7 there is no room for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased off the face of the planet!" Cohen wrote.
U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty also weighed in on Guterres’s statements on X calling on the UN secretary general to resign.
“Nothing-absolutely nothing justifies the savage murder of over 1300 people in Israel, including 30 Americans,” wrote Hagerty.
Israel has imposed a "total siege" on Gaza and international diplomacy has focused on getting aid to the enclave of 2.3 million people from Egypt via Rafah - the main crossing in and out of Gaza that does not border Israel.
Since Saturday 54 trucks have crossed into Gaza carrying food, medicine and water, which Guterres described as "a drop of aid in an ocean of need."
Guterres said at least 35 U.N. staff had been killed during the bombardment of Gaza.
Information from this report came from Reuters.