Israel-Gaza conflict: Air strikes 'kill five' as UK announces NHS staff will be sent to treat wounded civilians

Senior Hamas official Moaaz Zaid was among the dead 

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The Independent Online

Five Palestinians died when more than 30 air strikes were launched at Gaza on Saturday, as fresh fighting resumed just a day after a three-day ceasefire expired.

Medical officials in Gaza said two Palestinians were killed in overnight air strikes when their motorcycle was bombed and the bodies of three others were found beneath the rubble of a bombed mosques.

Senior Hamas official Moaaz Zaid was one of the three discovered under the rubble, a Palestinian health official said.

Gaza militants also fired 15 rockets at towns in Israel's south on Saturday, setting off alarm sirens but causing no damage or injuries, a military spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, violence picked up in the occupied West Bank where a Palestinian man died of a gunshot wound to the chest from a confrontation with Israeli soldiers in the city of Hebron, according to medical officials.

The renewed fighting comes as the UK announced a team of NHS experts will be dispatched to Gaza to assist wounded victims caught up in a conflict that has claimed over 2,000 lives.

The specialist team of doctors, nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists, paramedics and anaesthetists will initially be based with Medical Aid for Palestinians at Al Mokassed hospital in East Jerusalem until the best way to access Gaza is established.

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.

Palestinian officials say the death toll in Gaza has now reached 1,922, most of them civilian. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died during the four-week conflict.

On Friday, the UN General Secretary Ban-ki Moon condemned the deaths as “intolerable” and urged the parties "not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already appalling humanitarian situation in Gaza”.

The White House also released a statement urging Israel and the Palestinians to do what they could to reduce the civilian casualties, saying "the United States is very concerned" about the fresh violence.

Cross-border fighting began again on Friday morning when Egypt-brokered talks to extended the 72-hour truce with Israeli and Palestinian delegates fell through.

Hamas rejected an extension, saying Israel had failed to meet its demands, which include lifting the blockade on Gaza and re-opening a sea port, during negotiations in Egypt but said negotiations would continue.

But Israeli officials said it would not negotiate with Palestinians about renewing the truce in Gaza as long as militants continued to launch rockets.