Mental Health Epidemic: The Exposure of Palestinian Children to War

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The ongoing wars have wreaked havoc on Palestinian society since children are just as susceptible to the Israeli war machine as adults.

  • Over 54.7% of Palestinian children have experienced at least one traumatic incident, study finds

Palestinian children are currently suffering from a mental health epidemic due to Israeli military attacks, which have a terrible impact on their mental health due to Zionist persecution.

Mental health is an important issue for everyone around the world. As children grow, develop and learn, this becomes even more important. For decades, “Israel” has occupied the Palestinian territories. The conflict has steadily escalated into all-out fighting and violence. Palestinians living in the densely populated Gaza Strip have also been disproportionately affected by the violence. Injuries, amputation and death are often the result of wars, gunfire, air strikes and airstrikes. The mental health of Palestinian children suffers greatly from witnessing all of these things on a daily basis.

In particular, the violence has increased the stress and anxiety levels of Palestinian children. They are suffering because they have lost loved ones, destroyed their homes and do not feel safe. Moreover, providing these children with the right care, such as trained therapists and psychiatrists, is a challenge because “Israel” controls access in and out of the Gaza Strip. As a result, many families are left to manage these issues on their own (World Vision International, 2010).

According to a research study, more than 54.7% of Palestinian children have experienced at least one traumatic incident; 49% have endured war-related trauma, and the constant Israeli attacks could cause serious psychological problems. Additionally, Israeli forces have killed at least 3,000 Palestinian children over the past 20 years. The scenario has wreaked havoc on Palestinian society since children are just as susceptible to the Israeli war machine as adults (Basal, Chris, Samara, 2020).

Additionally, war trauma can inhibit personality development since the victim’s mind is constantly on alert to protect itself, preventing it from developing in other areas of life. Children often show overt vigilance even after the threat has passed. It is difficult for them to forget the trauma and they often have flashbacks.

The situation in the Gaza Strip is unusual. Children are daily subjected to traumatic experiences related to war, as well as the long-term nature of conflict.

Furthermore, based on a survey of 488 children and 160 parents and guardians, save the children, a relief organization, reported that the mental health of children in Gaza was at alarming levels. The need for mental health and psychosocial care is one in two among children in Gaza. According to Lucia Elmi, UNICEF Special Representative in Palestine, 15-year-old children in or near Gaza have already endured five conflicts (Save the Children, 2022).

Many children around the world are victims of political violence, terrorist attacks and conflicts. War-related stresses include shelling, shelling, demolition of homes, and witnessing the injuries and deaths of family members or loved ones. Due to exposure to traumatic war situations, children may have feelings of insecurity and disrupted daily functioning. Similarly, children and adolescents growing up in contexts of political unrest and terrorism are exposed to negative developmental implications and severe psychological repercussions, which can result in mental symptomatology (Taiba, 2022).

Significantly, when it comes to providing mental health care to its residents, the situation varies widely from country to country. While “Israel” has a comprehensive health care system to address the physical and mental health of its people, the lack of an integrated health care system in Gaza, combined with mobility restrictions, a confinement of items and services from both “Israel” and Egypt, and the specter of violence with no place to shelter leaves Gaza with a traumatized population and a system ill-equipped to help.

Palestinian children experience night terrors, difficulty concentrating in school and fear of leaving home as signs of conflict-related stress in children. The ongoing nature of children’s trauma also negatively influences their growth and ability to function as adults, and because children who have trouble concentrating in school are more likely to drop out, the trauma they have suffered is likely to affect their social relationships.

Additionally, often traumatized children have impaired cognitive abilities, lack of energy, lack of water, and all the other difficulties that come with life on the Strip. In addition, it significantly influences the physical, intellectual and emotional development of children. These circumstances make it difficult for children to receive mental health treatment and for health care clinicians to treat children who have suffered conflict-related trauma, even if they have access to counseling and psychiatric services (International Review of Red Cross, 2019).

More importantly, despite calls for increased funding and resources for mental health services in Gaza, one message remains clear: even with adequate resources, qualified society doctors and a comprehensive health care system , the only protracted solution to the mental health crisis in Gaza and among Palestinians living under occupation – is to end the violence and the threat of displacement.

Even if there were an abundance of psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, pediatricians, social workers and therapists, they would still be unable to adequately deal with this massive mental health crisis because the source of the crisis is the bombings, siege, poverty and closure. , keep on going.

The Israeli military offensive has left more than half of Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip in dire need of mental health assistance. Many will suffer long-term psychological, emotional and physical scars as a result. Although immediate humanitarian assistance is needed, there must be unrestricted access for relief personnel to safely approach children in need of assistance. In addition, it is necessary to allow the uncontrolled entry of fuel, clean water and other basic necessities such as medicines.

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