Since fighting began in Gaza on July 8, the death toll for Israelis and Palestinians has reached well over 700, with hundreds more critically wounded. The majority of the casualties have been civilian, including over 150 children.
The horrors we have seen over the past few weeks will only continue if a ceasefire is not reached, though, due to the demands of Hamas, the Islamic militants in control of Gaza, this does not seem to be on the immediate horizon.
A new proposal for a ceasefire, written by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, was just rejected by the extremists. This comes after Hamas rejected a different ceasefire proposal, offered by Egypt last week.
The fighting began 16 days ago, when tensions between Israel and Hamas boiled over. Hamas is demanding the lifting of the blockade Israel imposed on Gaza over the course of 2006 and 2007, as well as the lifting of the Egyptian blockade imposed on Gaza's southwestern border last year.
Over the last few weeks, Israel has uncovered over 30 secret tunnels that lead from Gaza to Israel. At least five of these have been used for sneak attacks on Israel.
Being that the majority of the casualties have been residents (not soldiers) of Gaza, it would seem that Israel should have the upper hand in terms of negotiations, but this has not been the case.
Disturbingly, the extremely high rate of civilian deaths in Gaza seems to be part of Hamas' plan. Fox News reports, "UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee agency, has said it has found militant rockets inside two vacant schools, but has yet to confirm the latest reports of the deaths."
Placing their weapons in schools, hospitals and other public places has given Israel the choice of either bombing these vulnerable places and killing innocent civilians or allowing Hamas to continue firing rockets into Israel.
For now, the world can only continue to watch on in horror as the atrocities continue.