Carlisle-born journalist Paul Calvert, who has been reporting from the Middle East, says the area has become a ‘battle of truth’ following the recent destruction of a hospital in Gaza  - claiming the lives of over 500 people.

Hamas said an Israeli air strike led to the blast, but the Israeli military disputed the claim, saying the explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital was caused by a misfired rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.

"They fire these rockets, but these are crude rockets," Paul said. 

“Rockets that have been created from the piping of lighting around the city and they're very successful.

“But some go up and land straight back down again. 

"This is where the battle of truth lies." 

Paul Calvert first moved from Welton to the Middle East 21 years ago where he now operates community Christian radio station Hayah in Bethlehem.

The atmosphere in Bethlehem has been 'surprisingly very quiet’  on Wednesday (October 18), following the bloodshed as a general strike is placed across the city, Paul said.

"I was expecting a huge amount of trouble today but it has been very quiet.

“Everybody is very sad because of what happened in the hospital. Whoever is responsible for this, there are lives that have been lost and that is very sad. 

“Palestinians are obviously, and a lot of people don’t want war but are fearful that Israel will now go into Gaza," he said. 

News and Star: Paul Calvert, from Welton, continues to run radio station Hayah in Bethlehem Paul Calvert, from Welton, continues to run radio station Hayah in Bethlehem (Image: Supplied)

He expressed that his personal safety concern would heighten if the conflict were to expand into the West Bank. 

Expressing his own viewpoint on the situation, Paul said: “I think Israel needs to go into the Gaza Strip and completely get rid of Hamas. That will not just bring peace for Israel but also for the Palestinians for the next five years. 

“We have a guy working in the radio station, who is a Palestinian from Gaza, and he wants Israel to get Hamas out. 

"What we're hearing now is that Palestinians also want to get rid of Mahmoud Abbas (President of the Palestinian Authority)," he said. 

Throughout his coverage, Paul has had the opportunity to interview people on both sides of the conflict, gaining insights into their emotions and personal stories.

From Palestinians who experienced the initial rocket bombardments to a volunteer with Rescuers Without Borders whose sons are fighting for Israel, he emphasised the emotional toll that the conflict is exacting on individuals from both sides.

“This is people's sons and daughters going into the fight, and there is a very real chance they will get killed. It's a mother's pain and heartbreak.

"Whatever political stance you are from, within it all – there are people hurting on both sides,” he said.

Listen to Paul's interview with British Army's Colonel Richard Kemp (October, 18)