Antonio Guterres
Antonio GuterresReuters

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in the Gaza Strip, a day after the war between Israel and Hamas reached the 100-day mark.

"We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. To ensure sufficient aid gets to where it is needed. To facilitate the release of the hostages. To tamp down the flames of wider war because the longer the conflict in Gaza continues, the greater the risk of escalation and miscalculation," Guterres said at a press briefing in New York, as quoted by the AFP news agency.

Guterres condemned a humanitarian situation in Gaza that he said was "beyond words."

The "vast majority" of the UN's Palestinian Arab staff have fled their homes and 152 staff members have been killed since October 7, Guterres said, adding that this is "the largest single loss of life in the history of our organization."

He claimed that aid deliveries are struggling to get through to a "traumatized people" and that Gaza now faces "the long shadow of starvation."

"Nothing can justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people," Guterres added.

In previous statements during the war, the UN chief has been particularly critical of Israel. In one incident, he said that Hamas’ attack on Israel “did not happen in a vacuum” and appeared to blame Israel for the attack.

After his remarks were widely condemned, Guterres claimed his comments were misinterpreted and that he had indeed condemned Hamas.

He later criticized Israel once again, claiming that the high numbers of civilian casualties reported from Gaza show that there is something "clearly wrong" with Israel's response to the Hamas attack on October 7.

Last month, Guterres invoked the rarely used Article 99 of the UN Charter in an attempt to force the Security Council to act to stop the ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization.

In response, then-Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that “Guterres’ tenure is a danger to world peace. His request to activate Article 99 and a call for a ceasefire in Gaza constitutes support for the Hamas terrorist organization, and provides a tailwind for the murder of the elderly, the kidnapping of babies and the rape of women.”