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Israel-Hamas war: Completely cut off - it's impossible to know if Gaza will return to any kind of 'normal'

I've covered many of the Israeli incursions into Gaza over the years, mainly, it has to be said, from inside the narrow enclave. 

From there I barely glimpsed an Israeli soldier as they rarely came with intent to move into the main urban areas. That has changed.

Now, from over the border in Israel, Sky filmed tanks and dismounted infantry making their way through the battlefield towards a skyline of smouldering and wrecked towns with Gaza City in the distance.

Desperate Gazans break into aid warehouses; war latest

In previous wars when the jets bombed and artillery rounds fell around you, I have to say it was genuinely terrifying, and I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like now for civilians stuck inside Gaza.

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This war is different in many ways.

Firstly, the Israeli government has made it completely clear they intend to dismantle Hamas following their brutal attack on 7 October, and that they intend to achieve their objective by going inside the Hamas strongholds and their enormous tunnel network.

They have reiterated to the Israeli people that this will be a potentially long and drawn-out campaign.

Deadliest of the five wars for both sides

There is another major difference; this is the deadliest of the five wars for both sides.

The thundering noise of Israeli artillery fired from positions near an overwatch location at the border popular with the media is continuous.

At night they're firing into a completely black landscape, the electricity is out in Gaza.

Read more:
Gazans frantically try to contact loved ones
How Gaza went from desperately poor to poorer

As the explosions hit, the battered skyline of destroyed buildings is lit up by an orange glow, within seconds it returns to pitch black.

Occasionally we can hear the sound of machine gun fire and tanks moving, that's how close the fighting is on the border.

Above us there is a constant hum of drones, and the shriek of Israeli jets moving onto their next target.

Gaza is being pummelled day and night.

Our colleagues there say communication blackouts have made life even more scary - a sense of being cut off from the outside world spreads through the population like a dark shadow of fear.

And from the other side of the border, it looks completely cut off.

Everything that sustains life is in short supply

The Gaza health system, already inadequate, is barely functioning. Everything that sustains life is in short supply, or simply gone.

The lack of water and electricity exasperates that desperation, and all routes in and out of Gaza are closed.

I know the Gaza Strip pretty well after two decades of visits, but of course I have never lived there or been there knowing I could never leave.

That is a completely different emotional mindset that my friends there were always kind enough to not continuously point out.

It is impossible to estimate even remotely how long it will take to return to any kind of 'normal'.

Maybe it never will. It will certainly not be the same.