UK medical team fly out to help Gaza wounded

Destoryed buildings in Gaza Image copyright AFP/Getty

A team of UK doctors are flying to Gaza to help people injured in the violence.

The group, made up of two orthopaedic surgeons and a plastic surgeon, set off as a fresh three-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas continued to hold.

The agreed truce, which began at midnight (21:00 GMT) on Sunday, came after days of intense talks in Egypt.

Steve Mannion, clinical lead of the team, said the doctors would be able to assess how much medical help was needed so the UK could plan its aid.

"There's been nearly 2,000 deaths as a result of the conflict and nearly 10,000 injured," Mr Mannion said.

"And the question is to what extent there's capacity in Gaza to deal with that number of injured people - both in terms of the medical professionals and in terms of equipment and resources necessary to treat that pattern of injury."

Prime Minister David Cameron announced the deployment of the expert team at the weekend, saying the NHS would play a "crucial role" in helping hundreds caught up in the conflict.

Image caption Clinical lead for the medical team Steve Mannion says there is a "degree of risk" for the doctors in Gaza

Speaking before setting off from Heathrow Airport, Mr Mannion said the team could expect to treat blast wounds and people injured by fallen masonry.

"The kind of complex area that we might be looking at from our own expert medical teams might be open fractures, severe soft tissue wounding and things like that," he said.

The conflict began on 8 July when Israel launched an operation intended to deter militant attacks from Gaza.

Those killed include more than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to the UN. Sixty-seven people have died on the Israeli side, including three civilians.

If the current truce continues to hold, Israel will send negotiators to Cairo on Monday for talks on a longer-term deal.

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