What can anyone from the outside do in such circumstances? In the short term the need is for maximum pressure for a ceasefire and for the provision of humanitarian aid. Once the violence stops, we have to get to grips with the underlying problems. This is not just about restarting the same old peace process and hoping it will go somewhere this time. There is little or no chance of that, unless there are real changes of personalities and policies on both Israeli and Palestinian sides. I would start by suggesting we all face up to four realities.
Let me be clear that the answer does not lie in another military strike against Gaza that kills hundreds of civilians on beaches and in hospitals as much as in hideaways and on the battleground, wreaks havoc, puts paid to all arguments about proportionality as I understand them from my law years and then concludes balefully with a ceasefire that is not unlike previous documents.
This cannot go on. Humans live in Gaza, remarkably like us. They laugh, they cry, they die. But too many of them die before their time. And that is true for those 29 Israeli military boys who have died, none older than his 20s. Cannot their end be the starting point for something revolutionarily new? Getting inside each others heads, understanding the other, or is it all just too late?
The suffering in Gaza continues unabated. The strip is blockaded from land, sea and air and bombed from land, sea and air. The death toll has climbed past 550, including at least 100 Palestinian children. Yet, still, silver-tongued Israeli officials continue to take to the airwaves to defend the indefensible.
What would life be like in a prison camp? We can postulate about dirty, cramped conditions but few of us will ever experience anything remotely resembling such an ordeal. It is even hard to imagine. The only given is that we would live in hope of being liberated from our nightmare. We would expect to be rescued as quickly as humanly possible.
Nuclear apocalypse has been avoided. Iran has agreed to curb its nuclear activity. That's what they tell us anyway. Let's not get ahead of ourselves; even if Iran's cooperation is genuine, world leaders and their Iranian counterparts are not about to hold hands, hug it out or start tweeting funny cat memes to each other.