In the past couple of years I've checked the news everyday from Gaza and written a few times about the brutal occupation and collective punishment that Israel were enforcing on the civilian population there (eg here, here, here, here, here).
(Picture: Me with some palestinian kids in a refugee camp much like those that are currently being bombed in Gaza)
In the last 8 days Israel has killed over 460 Palestinians and the UN estimates that at least a third are civilians or regular street policemen. We don't know the full extent of the carnage because Israel (again defying international law) won't allow any journalists into Gaza to report on what they are doing.
The disproportionate scale of Israel's assault and the reaction of the US and EU would be laughable where it not for the fact that women and children are being blown to pieces everyday.
George Bush says the Israelis are defending themselves against rocket fire. The facts are that Israel haven't just started killing people this week. During the last seven years, 18 Israelis have been killed by homemade rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, while more than 5,000 Palestinians were killed by Israel with some of the most advanced US-supplied armaments in the world. And while no rockets are fired from the West Bank, 45 Palestinians have died there at Israel's hands this year alone.
This occurs against the backdrop of Israel slowly suffocating both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with more than 50% of Gazans living below the poverty line and all imports (including UN and Red Cross humanitarian aid) being restricted and controlled by Israel. There have been no exports from Gaza allowed for 2 years.
The western governments are 'monitoring' the situation. I wonder what their response would be to an assault on Israel, or the US or Britain which left nearly 500 people dead in a couple of days.
The reason it sickens and angers me so much is that the traumatised, grieving faces I see aren't just random arabs but they remind me of the most hospitable, friendly people I've ever met. People who are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, mates just like we have here.
The fact of the matter is that an Arab life isn't worth as much as a Jewish, American or European life. But I believe in the Palestinian people. They have a strength and a hope that I pray will sustain them in these dark days.
"The Israelis have the power, the Palestinian people have dignity and despite all odds, still have hope. The Israelis have the airplanes from which they drop bombs in Gaza, they have bulldozers made here in the United States, not far from my home, they can do all those things, but despite this imbalance of power, the Israelis will never be able to destroy Palestinians' hope and dignity."