Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza is creating a wave of human suffering of unimaginable proportions.
It will mark Palestinian society in blood for years to come.
Now the Israeli cabinet is set to turn Gaza into hell on Earth by pushing tens of thousands of troops, backed by tanks and bulldozers, into cities and towns.
The snippets of news emerging from the rubble tell of immeasurable fear, suffering and death.
The Israeli army is refusing to allow any foreign journalists into Gaza, so many of the reports are filtering out through United Nations (UN) workers and the soldiers themselves.
Horrifying reports are emerging from Gaza of terrified civilians sleeping in the streets for fear of being trapped under buildings.
The scenes are so shocking that even one Israeli officer involved in the invasion was forced to admit, “The situation in Gaza is grim – we see women and children carrying white flags looking for food.”
The Israeli air force boasted that it has struck 2,200 targets in Gaza since beginning the operation.
The Israelis claim to be targeting “terrorists”.
Yet the real targets are factories, schools, homes, shops, offices and hospitals.
Even a Finnish-run clinic funded by a religious organisation has not escaped the relentless punishment.
One clinic was totally destroyed by a missile, forcing the charity to close its two others.
One UN report notes that, “Between 9 and 10 January, the European Gaza Hospital, El Nasser Paediatric Hospital, Sabha Al Harazin and Hala Al Shawa primary healthcare centres sustained damage due to shelling or artillery fire.
“The Dorah Paediatrics Hospital is closed (except for emergency services) after sustaining damage.”
It warns, “An unknown number of dead, injured and trapped people remain in houses which have been shelled and in areas where hostilities are ongoing.
Due to attacks on ambulances, medical staff are fearful of reaching these places.”
The UN reports that main water pipelines have been damaged, as have sewage works and water treatment plants, leaving some 500,000 people with no access to clean running water.
Food has become a priority because “the 18-month long blockade on Gaza has prevented humanitarian organisations from pre-positioning goods”.
Evidence is also mounting on Israel’s use of white phosphorus shells – a weapon more deadly than napalm.
The phosphorus causes horrific burns on contact with skin.
Israel has admitted to using phosphorus in its 2006 war on Lebanon.
One hospital worker describes the telltale damage left by these weapons: “The burns are very unusual.
“They don’t look like burns we have normally seen. They are third-level burns that we can’t seem to control.”
Palestinian authorities have announced that by the afternoon of 11 January they counted 884 dead, among them 275 children and 93 women.
Twelve medical personnel are among the fatalities.
Some 3,860 people have been wounded – including 1,333 children and 587 women.
These figures are set to rise when the gruesome process of searching collapsed building begins.
The UN fears that the Israeli assault will have severe repercussions for years to come.
One health worker told the UN’s news agency that, “If vaccinations are stopped for one or two weeks this is enough to cause a widespread outbreak of avoidable diseases – such as measles, hepatitis and polio – among children and the larger population.
“Efforts have been made for 15 years here to stop these diseases.
“One or two weeks of an interruption of vaccination programmes can create a risk.”
Around the world, fears for the Palestinians are growing as it becomes clear that the “third phase” of the Israeli offensive – an all-out assault on built up areas – will create a devastating toll of human suffering.