|As the ground offensive moves into its third day, Israel says it could last weeks [GALLO/GETTY]
Driving along the road listening to Israeli radio, the programmes in this part of the world are suddenly and frequently interrupted by alerts.
"Siren in Sderot, Siren in Sderot," says the woman with the deep voice in Hebrew.
This is the first warning that rockets are on their way. From the sound of the first warning people have 15 seconds to find some sort of shelter.
In towns like Sderot, there are missile shelters dotted around. They are mainly a concrete cylinder, with two concrete walls at either side.
It is very primitive but offers a measure of security from the barrage that is currently heading there.
And it is attacks like this that the Israeli army says it wants to end.
The people in Gaza have nothing like that to save them. More than 500 have been killed since last Saturday when this ferocious conflict began. The United Nations says 20 per cent of the dead have been women and children. That is more than 100.
The Israelis insist their fight is not with ordinary Palestinians but with Hamas.
Operation goes on
Foreign politicians are in Jerusalem, calling for a ceasefire, urging an improvement in the humanitarian situation. Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, says the operation will not be halted.
"We are fighting with terror and we are not reaching an agreement with terror," she said after meeting a delegation from the EU.
"Hamas targets Israel whenever it likes and Israel shows restraint. This is no longer going to be the equation in this region."
With an election due in Israel next month such a message from a woman who wants to be the next prime minister will do her prospects at the poll no harm.
From our vantage point high on the hill overlooking northern Gaza, just a few kilometres from the border, the gunfire and explosions have been much less than in the past 48 hours, yet we know the fighting below continues and is intense and brutal.
The scene at sunset is almost serene, with a low orange sun dipping down behind the horizon. Until the pop and whoosh of another rocket fired by the Israelis punctures the air. Seconds later there is the boom of a low explosion as it hits the ground and the smoke spirals up in front of the sun. It is a picture of sinister beauty.
The ground offensive is now moving in to its third day. Israel's generals say it could last weeks.
Gunfire in the dark
Using the darkness, the Israelis, as they have in the previous two nights have stepped up their offensive.
Most of the noise of battle is coming from the area around Gaza city. There is the steady thump of heavy guns, often followed by bursts of heavy machine gunfire.
Suddenly there's a huge fireball in the distance towards Bet Hanoun in the northern part of the Gaza strip.
Even though we're some distance away we can see the flames shooting into the sky. Whatever has been hit is now burning fiercely.
Then to the south, a huge light fills the sky for a few seconds. From our position it's hard to tell what has been hit or what damage has been inflicted.
The Israelis have made many of their advances in the dark. Their equipment gives them the advantage with many of their soldiers equipped with night vision capability.
And tonight it sounds like they are pressing home that advantage to the full.
Source: Al Jazeera