Israel's actions in Gaza have gone "beyond the scope of self-defense" and the Israeli government must "cease its collective punishment of the people of Gaza," China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in remarks published Sunday.

Wang's remarks, made on a call to his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday, came as Israel appeared poised for a ground offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza.

"Israel's actions have gone beyond the scope of self-defense," Wang said according to a ministry readout.