Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has expressed New Zealand's "grave concern" at the escalation of violence in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Gaza.
"The growing death toll and the large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes and Gazan rockets is unacceptable," she said.
She revealed that senior officials met with the Israeli Ambassador yesterday.
"Officials underlined the concerning loss of life and strongly urged Israel to de-escalate to prevent the prospect of a widening conflict.
"They also raised their concern at the continued violation of international law and forced evictions occurring in East Jerusalem," Mahuta said.
She added that Hamas must stop launching rockets towards Israel.
However, "any response from Israel should be restrained and must avoid civilian casualties", she said. "All sides have a responsibility to de-escalate, stop the violence and prevent further suffering and loss of life."
Mahuta said New Zealand "stands ready" to assist in any constructive way it can.
72 killed in Israel-Gaza crossfire
Israel has pressed ahead with a fierce military offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing as many as 10 senior Hamas military figures and toppling a pair of high-rise apartment towers in a series of airstrikes.
Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, shows no signs of backing down and fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities.
In just three days, this latest round of fighting between the bitter enemies has already begun to resemble — and even exceed — a devastating 50-day war in 2014.
Like that previous war, neither side appears to have an exit strategy. But there are key differences. The fighting has triggered the worst Jewish-Arab violence inside Israel in decades. And looming in the background is an international war crimes investigation.
Israel carried out an intense barrage of airstrikes just after sunrise, striking dozens of targets in several minutes that set off bone-rattling explosions across Gaza. Airstrikes continued throughout the day, filling the sky with pillars of smoke.
"There is nowhere to run. There is nowhere to hide," said Zeyad Khattab, a 44-year-old pharmacist who fled with a dozen other relatives to a family home in central Gaza after bombs pounded his apartment building in Gaza City. "That terror is impossible to describe."
Gaza militants continued to bombard Israel with nonstop rocket fire throughout the day.
The attacks brought life to a standstill in southern communities near Gaza, but also reached as far north as the Tel Aviv area, about 70km to the north, for a second straight day.
"We're coping, sitting at home, hoping it will be okay," said Motti Haim, a resident of the central town of Beer Yaakov and father of two children. "It's not simple running to the shelter. It's not easy with the kids."
Gaza's Health Ministry said the death toll rose to 65 Palestinians, including 16 children and five women. Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven militants, and Hamas acknowledged that a top commander and several other members were killed.
Seven people have been killed in Israel, including four on Wednesday. Among them were a soldier killed by an anti-tank missile and a 6-year-old child hit in a rocket attack.
United Nations and Egyptian officials have said ceasefire efforts are under way, but there were no signs of progress.
Israeli news has reported late that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Security Cabinet authorised a widening of the offensive.
UN chief Antonio Guterres condemned the "indiscriminate launching of rockets" from civilian areas in Gaza towards Israeli population centres, but he also urged Israel to show "maximum restraint".
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
- additional reporting: AP