Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City.

Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City.

The Disasters and Emergencies Committee has said the humanitarian situation in Gaza has now reached ‘crisis point’ with hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical care.

Britain has responded by sending a team of NHS medical experts while the Department for International Development (DfID) has matched £2 million raised by the British public in 24 hours.

A DEC spokesman said: “The health system in Gaza is on the verge of collapse, with 24 health facilities damaged and acute shortages of medicines and medical supplies. Services in Gaza were severely stretched before the conflict, and 80% of the population depended on aid.  There is now massive unmet humanitarian need in Gaza which can only be met with substantial international assistance.”

Downing Street said that staff would be flying to the region in the next 48 hours to help treat those caught up in the crisis, as a three-day ceasefire resumed.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The conflict in Gaza has taken a terrible toll. The UK has been at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to help those affected and it is right that we see what more we can do.

“The NHS has always stepped up to the plate to help those in need and this expert team will play a crucial role in helping hundreds caught up in this conflict.”

The Government has activated its International Emergency Trauma Register to put together a team made up of doctors, nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists and paramedics from the specialities of emergency medicine, orthopaedic trauma surgery and plastic surgery.

Downing Street said that they would will initially be based with Medical Aid for Palestinians at Al Mokassed hospital in East Jerusalem.

Once access to Gaza becomes possible, the intention is that they should move their operation into the enclave.

Although their primary objective will be to treat people in the region, No 10 said they would also be looking at how they could help those – especially children – in need of highly complex treatments that are unavailable locally, including through specialist capabilities in the UK.

The medics are being funded by UK aid from the Department for International Development and the deployment will be made through the UK International Emergency Trauma Register.

A Government spokesman said: “The register was launched by the International Development Secretary Justine Greening in December 2012 and enables British medical experts to provide humanitarian assistance during disasters overseas.

“It is designed specifically to respond to situations where surgical expertise is required and means the UK provides a timely and co-ordinated response to rapid-onset disasters. Other recent deployments include responding to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November last year.”

Ms Greening said: “A month of violence in Gaza has left people in desperate need of immediate medical help. Every day of continuing violence adds to that.

“DfID has now activated the International Emergency Trauma Register to get NHS medical experts where they are needed most. The volunteers on the register are experts in working in the most challenging conditions and will help hundreds of Gazans caught up in this violence.”