AFTER a week of brutal air attacks on a defenceless population of Gaza, thousands of Israeli troops, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships supplied by the US, have entered Gaza city. Over 500 Palestinians, mostly innocent non-combatants, have already been killed since the ground offensive began on Saturday night, while the world looks on passively. Of the total dead till Saturday night, 87 are reportedly children. The Gaza administration, which does not have tanks, artillery or air power, and is solely dependent on rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, is naturally unable to defend 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Strip. Rockets fired by the Hezbollah militants are no more than pot shots which have only killed four Israelis in Ahkalon, an area from where over 80 percent of Gazans had been pushed out into the barren and inhospitable strip of land decades ago. As a result of the Israeli ground offensive, Gaza city with a population of 400,000, has been cut off from the rest of the Strip. What Hamas is depending on are its fighters, reportedly 20,000 in number. It is drawing the Israeli troops into populated areas to initiate an urban combat. This would mean further killing of innocent noncombatants. The world powers are acting as passive onlookers, doing little to stop the carnage. While Russia and France have demanded the lifting of the blockade and stopping the bloodshed, both blamed Hamas for forcing Israel to launch the offensive. Along with the EU, Russia and France have launched separate initiatives for a ceasefire in Gaza. The US, which could have played a key role in the affair, has once again acted as a blind supporter of Israel's barbarities. On Sunday, it stonewalled a Libyan draft statement calling for an immediate truce. This would further strengthen the anti-US sentiment across the Muslim world and provide the extremists and terrorists a cause clbre, besides further marginalising pro-US and moderate regimes in the Arab and Muslim world. While the Arab and Muslim governments have not gone beyond bland statements of resentment, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Tehran, Amman, Beirut, Istanbul and Rabat over the last week. In many cases, the protests have been directed as much against the Arab governments as Israel. What is most unfortunate is that the infighting between Fatah and Hamas has driven a wedge between the Palestinians living on the West Bank and those in Gaza, with the result that opinion in the West Bank has been divided. Thus no effective protests were launched on the West Bank, which is hardly an hours' drive from Gaza.