The daily images of atrocity from Gaza have a way of reaching all human senses. Even in a single snapshot, terror and sorrow are audible. Facial expressions reveal the cries of men mourning families trapped under rubble; I hear the wailing of a mother with her head bowed embracing her dead child.

One image particularly haunts me. This week, on a newspaper’s front page, there was a portrait of seven fragile newborns, some swathed in what seemed like hospital scrubs, others with delicate, skinny limbs protruding from oversized nappies, each connected to a futile lifeline of wires and tubes.

I catch myself wondering what their names might be, their stories, and whether their parents survived to whisper their identities into being.

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Hospitals in Gaza are collapsing for lack of fuel. Babies that should be in incubators are wrapped in makeshift blankets to stop them dying of cold. In what much of the media continues to call the war between Israel and Hamas, nearly 70% of the dead are women and children.

I’m not sure what the “correct” emotion is meant to be. Some will insist that my emotional response, one white woman in Glasgow, is besides the point: what matters is frontline Palestinian voices.

Others will doubtless chastise me for writing once more about the tragedies in Palestine, even if one side is out-killing the other at the rate of ten to one. Even if one side occupies the other’s land.

All emotions in this conflict are subject in some way to two-way censure. This either leads to an evasive silence, where the usually-opinionated say nothing, or to bluntly polarised cheerleading for a side that only permits righteous anger and allows nothing for human weakness.

Over time, I have come to reject that type of polarisation in favour of my own emotional honesty.

In truth, the visceral images of the ongoing Gaza atrocities have exhausted me and led me to self-imposed exiles from social media. But really, this only added to the power of the images that I do see. I was in the supermarket when I saw that image of babies in their improvised incubators, and I cried.

The Herald: A medic tends a baby in GazaA medic tends a baby in Gaza (Image: free)

Looking away from the horror had made matters worse. This one picture reminded me of what connected my life – and the various fantasies I spin around it – with the visceral realities facing mothers in Gaza.

Even in the comparatively salubrious suburbs of Glasgow, like every parent, I worry daily about my young daughter’s wellbeing. The agonies in Gaza seem incomprehensibly vast. Faced with brutality elsewhere, there is a risk of being caught between numb spectatorship and complicit avoidance.

Many are sceptical of the power of images, particularly nowadays because we are saturated in them.

Even in the pre-social media age of 1970s America, when people were confronted with the horrors committed in their name by images of a South Vietnamese child sprayed with napalm, fleeing towards the camera in terror, even back then, intellectuals doubted whether images themselves would change anything.

“To suffer is one thing,” argued Susan Sontag, “another thing is living with the photographed images of suffering, which does not necessarily strengthen conscience and the ability to be compassionate. It can also corrupt them.”

Sontag has a point. Images are not independent from ideology. “What determines the possibility of being affected morally by photographs is the existence of a relevant political consciousness,” she observes.

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“Without politics, photographs of the slaughter-bench of history will most likely be experienced as, simply, unreal or as a demoralising emotional blow.”

Of course, exposure to violence can desensitise. Sentimental solidarity can wear thin.

I'm reminded of a similar instance in 2015, when the world stopped to mourn a small boy in a red T-shirt and shorts, washed ashore near Bodrum in Turkey. Alan Kurdi, a two-year-old Syrian refugee, became a symbol of a crisis too vast to comprehend, his image a pause button on the world's ceaseless cacophony of hate and indifference.

But the pause was no ceasefire: the callousness soon returned with a vengeance, and 2015 ultimately brought new rounds of anti-immigrant sentiment; the EU would haul up the barriers of “Fortress Europe”.

Nonetheless, I believe that Sontag’s suggestion that photographs violate their subjects, generating passivity and spectatorship, has become less credible.

Nowadays, the photographers are not always Western war reporters. Increasingly, photographers are the subjects themselves, communicating their stories of tragedy and resilience directly.

People often complain about the downsides of new technology. Liberals indulge in endless handwringing about emerging modes of misinformation, with an implied nostalgia for the good old days of honest, propaganda-free journalism.

Gazans are among the world’s most powerless people, but nowadays they can directly counter the dehumanising narratives.

Perhaps images can desensitise, but I think they are also carriers of political agency. They can transform abstract statistics into tangible human stories. They can change our perception of refugees from faceless adults to innocent children.

They turn the concept of bombardment into a reality of destruction and despair. Amid the barbarism, real-time war reporting by Gazans can be considered part of a legacy of bottom-up social transformation driven by the voices of oppressed people.

One day, I plan to share these images with my daughter. They are a testament to a time when the world was forced to confront its conscience and we all made a choice about our part in that.

I cling to the hope that these visual narratives, born out of suffering and captured by journalists and civilians alike, will resonate powerfully enough to alter the course of history, to bring about the change so desperately needed for the Palestinian people.

In these photographs lies not just the documentation of tragedy but the potential for a transformative empathy, a call to action that I hope will echo through the corridors of power and bring about a lasting change.