THE world is watching with growing apprehension as the diplomats shuttle with increasing speed across the Middle East trying to prevent further loss of civilian lives.

Israel is responding to a terrorist outrage committed against it by Hamas which, having killed more than 1,000 Israeli civilians, is now illegally holding nearly 200 more against their will. This is clearly not acceptable.

It was good to see the House of Commons united in its support of Israel, but there was also an undercurrent of gnawing worry about what comes next. A phrase “no collective punishment” was used by several speakers as the civilian population of Gaza could bear the brunt of Israel’s attempts to wipe out Hamas.

Britain has upped its humanitarian aid to Gaza by £10m, and rightly so. The Palestinian people need water, medicine and fuel to keep the emergency wards in their hospitals running.

All civilian lives have equal value.

There are so many bad actors in the Middle East who want to widen the conflict in the hope of profiting from the mayhem – it is no accident that this conflict has come as Israel and Saudi Arabia seemed to be moving towards peace, which the principal of those bad actors, Iran, did not want to happen.

Although the Middle East seems a long way from our shores, we are already seeing the ripples in this country: it is so sad that Israeli schools here have closed out of fear and it was good to see Rishi Sunak visiting a classroom in a show of solidarity.

From the protestors on the streets of Britain to diplomats in the skies over the Middle East, we need calm heads to ensure humanitarian aid gets to those who need it most, and to prevent breaches of international law which will lead to the escalation of the conflict and the deaths of countless more civilians.