For the past few weeks, each time I pick up the paper that's delivered to my door each morning the first thing I see is the number. The number climbs higher each day and my heart sinks a little more.
Living in the Middle East means that the regional news splashed across the front page is often full of blood, conflict and horror. Bombings, executions, rockets. It's odd and hard to accept that my life here is so different from the people who live so close. For relief I click onto to news.com.au top news stories to find out what celebrity is doing something shocking and 14 Things I Never Knew About Where's Wally.
Since we arrived here the civil war in Syria has been constant headline news, as the bloody situation has worsened and hope faded I was surprised to return to Australia last year and meet so many people who had no clue that anything was happening. No inkling that there was refugee crisis in the surrounding countries as millions of Syrians fled. As Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd argued about the few piddly boats headed for Australia last year, millions of people made homes in tent cities that sprung from nowhere and are now permanent cities and ranking as some of the largest in countries like Jordan and Lebanon. Children forced to abandon school and grow up in less than ideal environments.
In recent weeks, the news in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan has been pushed further back in the paper to make way for the devastation in Gaza. The news there has really affected me. Statistics such as 44% of inhabitable space in Gaza has now been destroyed, along with hospitals, mosques and schools. The only power plant destroyed meaning no electricity or water. Thousands of people dead, including many children. These are people who are poor. These are many, many people who live is a tiny area - one of the most densely populated places on earth. These are people who cannot leave. They are forced to stay and let rockets rain down on them.
How can the children who are living in Gaza today and experiencing the undescribable terror ever supposed to grow up and live lives without trauma and without hate?
Last night, I tucked in my kids - leaving a light on so the boogie man doesn't get them. I went to bed to read my detective novel, but I ended up looking at Twitter and reading a young girl tweeting out of Gaza. She talked about terrifying explosions and flashes of light outside her window. About the possibility of not surviving the night. Of having nowhere safe to go. This all during Eid, which is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. A time as precious to Muslims as Christmas is to Christians.
I lay in bed and thought about the families in Gaza. How they coped with no real way of knowing if they could keep their family safe that night or the next or the next. If only it was so easy as to just leave a light on.
I am not a supporter of Hamas, and I think many people in Australia would probably be surprised to know that much of the Middle East doesn't support Hamas. Whatever wrongs have been done, this obliteration of a whole community of people can't keep going. Innocent people with no way of escaping can't be left to have the crap bombed out of them. People seeking refuge in a UN school were killed today - this is the second time this week a UN school sheltering people has been hit. This is no solution.
The children who are having their lives destroyed, are living in terror and seeing their families killed in front of them, how can that breed anything but hate and bitterness. How many of them will want to seek revenge for what they will rightly and understandably see as unjust. And the circle of violence continues.
What is happening needs to stop. It just needs to stop.