John Prescott has branded Israel's Gaza offensive a war crime. (Getty)
Lord John Prescott has branded Israel's Gaza offensive a war crime.

British former deputy prime minister Lord John Prescott has likened the Gaza Strip to a concentration camp and branded Israel's bombardment of the region a war crime.

As a temporary ceasefire between the sides broke down this morning, the peer writes in the Sunday Mirror that, "The military action supposedly targeting Hamas is so brutally disproportionate and so grossly indiscriminate that it makes it impossible not to view Israel's actions as war crimes.

"Israel brands them terrorists but it is acting as judge, jury and executioner in the concentration camp that is Gaza.

"What happened to the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis is appalling. But you would think those atrocities would give Israelis a unique sense of perspective and empathy with the victims of a ghetto."

Prescott dismisses Israeli claims that civilians are given warning to flee rocket attacks.

"But where can these people escape to? They're hemmed in to a densely populated strip of land by the sea with no means of escape. When Israel is blasting hospitals and even UN schools acting as shelters, where exactly is it safe to flee to?"

Prescott calls for Israel to end its economic blockade of Gaza, for a freeze on "illegal settlement growth", and a "phased approach to end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem within a reasonable timeframe".

"The lack of a two-state solution is a running sore that continues to inflame the passions not just of Palestinians and Muslims," said Prescott, "but all fair-minded people around the world."

A ceasefire broke down this morning, as Hamas rejected an extension to a temporary 12 hour truce.

Israel claims that seven rockets were fired into Israel from Palestinian territory in the early hours of this morning.

So far the conflict has claimed 1,047 Palestinians – most of whom have been civilians – and 46 Israelis – of which 43 are soldiers – have died.

Hamas has now agreed to a new 24-hour humanitarian truce.