Having been witness to some of the worst cases of genocide during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Union of Health Work Committees has expressed concern over the psychological effects the war has had on the children of Gaza. To date, more than 1500 people have been killed in the four week long conflict, with thousands more injured.
The NGO, which runs a number of health clinics across the Gaza Strip, released a report in 2009, detailing how many of the children in the conflict stricken region were suffering from a severe and continuous form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The group’s executive director, Dr Yousef Mousa, emphasised the severity of the emotional and psychological trauma experienced by the children of Gaza.
“Imagine that a child born in 2008 has already passed three wars before he is seven years old. The size of the trauma is severe, because most of the children are still affected by the wars in 2009 and 2012,” he explained.
Whilst his NGO were trying to repair the psychological damage cause by the previous conflicts, the current conflict in the region was severely hampering those attempts. He also noted that the symptoms of PTSD were not only being seen in the children, but amongst the older population as well.
Discussing the conflict itself, Moussa said the magnitude of the aggression against the people of Gaza was unimaginable, describing the 2009 conflict as “child’s play” compared to what they were currently witnessing.
“More than 80% of the Shajaia neighbourhood has been completely demolished, similar to the devastation caused by a hurricane or earthquake,” he said.
He was fearful that the constant genocide and massacre in Gaza would instil in some of the younger citizens, a sense hatred and violence.
“This is the seriousness of the issue. Anything seen by children at this young age will be imprinted in their minds forever. They will not forget this,” he said.
Mousa said it was the responsibility of the international community to bring about the end of the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people, as it was the t very same international community that brought about the state of Israel in 1948.
“It is the right of the international community to correct this mistake. We, along with people all over the world, have the right to live in dignity, to have our own country, and the right to raise our children in peace and give them the chance for a better future,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)