The pounding of the 40-kilometre-long Gaza coastal strip by Israeli jets, tanks and ground forces continues. Over 650 people are now reported dead in ten days of fighting. Israel’s claims that many were Hamas militants are, at best, highly dubious. The demographic and geographic realities of Gaza, a territory split in half by Israeli troops, makes it inevitable that when bombs fall, children, women, the elderly and the sick are among those who die.

As has happened before, the world stands and twiddles its thumbs as the violence continues, from one day to the next and maybe into weeks. Israel has warned there will be no letup until it feels 'safe’.

Arab leaders have made their usual noises, France and former UK prime minister Tony Blair have made some efforts to lead a peace initiative and condemnation has come in strong words at the UN General Assembly, but none of this can change the fact that Palestinians continue to die and the piece of land that many of them know as their only home has been pulverized. The US has watched in what amounts to complete silence. It is hard to say whether this is entirely due to the fact that it is poised at the point of presidential change or because the Bush administration has taken a traditionally soft line on Israel, backing it in its charges against Hamas.

The happenings in Gaza have created waves everywhere. There have been protests in Muslim countries and indeed also in Europe. The sense of outrage is universal. So too are the fears that the events taking place will spur on greater militancy. This is a situation that few nations in the world would want.

The question is, what are they doing to avert it and why do we still have no united outcry against the Israeli invasion of Gaza and the massacre of its hapless people.

Your comments are welcome on 'grimmer in Gaza'!