Abbas Milhem tells of the horrific loss of family members in Gaza, and a sharp increase in unrest and violence against Palestinian civilians, also in the West Bank, where he is based in the city of Ramallah.
Abbas Milhem is the Executive Director of Norwegian People's Aid partner organization, the Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU).
The latest UN reports on the situation in the West Bank state that 102 people are killed, at least 27 of them children, since Saturday 7 October. The number of injured is approaching 2,000. Attacks, violence, harassment and vandalism of property by settlers have increased acutely. The World Health Organization, has recorded 81 attacks against health facilities, including ambulances that have been prevented from reaching people who are in need of immediate help.
- This is not a war against Hamas, it is a war against everything, says Milhem. We have never seen anything like what is happening now, and that is telling, because us Palestinians have seen everything. The reckless bombings in Gaza are destroying homes, hospitals, and schools, and are killing and injuring innocent children and families. The world needs to wake up now!
Last week, Abbas experienced the worst imaginable. His parents-in-law and brother-in-law were brutally killed in an attack on their house in Gaza.
We spoke to them when the order to evacuate came. But why would they flee? -Here where we live, there has never been a bombing before, Abbas, they said. - Everyone knows that this is an area where only civilians live, there is no reason to attack us
The strikes against civilian infrastructure in Gaza have been well documented in recent weeks, and over 6500 fatalities are reported inside the 25-mile-long strip of land. In the type of bombing that we see now, in densely populated areas such as Gaza, 9 out of 10 killed and injured are civilians.
- What number of dead Palestinians will make Israel say it's enough now? One thing that is for certain is that people living under occupation never will stop fighting - for freedom, for independence, for dignity. The occupation must end so we all can live in peace.
PFU has members both in Gaza and in the West Bank, and Milhem tries to keep in touch with themand offer suppoert as best he can. - In the Jordan Valley, the farmers who are members of PFU tell of daily attacks from settlers. They tear down tents, commit violence, and chase them away from the land they and their families have cultivated for hundreds of years. All to annex more Palestinian land. No one reacts, the settlers do as they please without being held accountable for their actions against innocent civilians.
What can I say? I ask them how they are doing, they reply that they are waiting for their turn. The situation there cannot be described in words. It's worse than the worst horror movie you can imagine.
- The international community must wake up now, he continues. Inshalla (God willing) we can learn something from these horrors. We cannot accept that people are being de-humanized in the way we see now. We cannot accept occupation, we cannot accept countless violations of international humanitarian law. We need peace. For all.