By Lincoln Archer and wires

January 6,

IN one besieged city, scores of children are dying and those brave enough to try to help them are facing horrific images of human suffering just to do their jobs.
In another city used to the constant threat of attack, a disembodied voice shouts "red colour!, red colour!" and people scramble to take cover.

As some of those in the second city watch the destruction in the first, they tell of their hope that it will ultimately mean something. But they sound resigned to the likelihood that not much will change.

This is how 2009 has started.

"Whoever comes with a head, we check his pulse," a doctor in Gaza told an Associated Press correspondent on the ground as the death toll there passed 500. "If there's no pulse, he's straight to the morgue. If there's no head, well, goodbye." The hospital is running on power from generators after air strikes knocked out its electricity supply. If they fail, dozens more will die as their life support machines switch off.

In the hospital's morgue, where 70 bodies are piled into refrigerators meant to hold 35, blood was reported to be pooling on the floor next to the bodies of three children. Some reports said there were about 100 children among the dead and 20 were killed yesterday alone.

photo: Position ... it looks like a Tianenmen-style standoff, but it's just a tank being directed / AP