GAZ (Middle East Eye) –
Every night 11-year-old Nadine Abdullatif says she prays the ceiling of her bedroom won’t fall on her as she sleeps.
She appeared in a video that went viral during the Zionist regime’s military attack on the Gaza Strip in May 2021, where she broke down while talking to Middle East Eye after Zionist air strikes flattened her neighbors’ house, killing eight children and two women.
In the video, which has been viewed millions of times, Abdullatif appears tearful and devastated as she stands near her neighbours’ home.
Gesturing at the rubble behind her, she asks: “You see all of this? What do you expect me to do? Fix it? I’m only 10.”
Speaking to MEE again on the first anniversary of the attack, she said her worst nightmare would be to witness that scene again.
“I’m terrified that another offensive would be launched on Gaza and something bad like this happens to my family or neighbours,” she said.
“Nothing has changed, I’m still too young and helpless. Every night before I go to bed, I stare at my ceiling and sincerely pray it won’t fall on my head. Since last year, I have this fear that the house would collapse at any moment.”
The Zionist bombardment of Gaza left 256 people dead, including 66 children, while rockets from the besieged enclave killed 13 in the occupied territories.
Abdullatif says her school results were significantly affected following the attack and she found it difficult to concentrate with thoughts of missiles striking her neighbourhoods never far from her mind.
“I keep seeing the same dream over and over again about the time when my brother and I used to sleep near the door so that we would escape faster if the home was targeted,” she said.
“I wish I could forget about all the memories related to these days so that I won’t dream about it. My biggest fear is that my family would die and leave me alone.”
Suzi Eshkuntana, who was the only survivor along with her father from an air strike that flattened her home in the al-Wehda street in the middle of Gaza, shares the same fear.
“The thing I’m most scared of is death, I’m scared that my dad would die,” said the eight-year old.
One month following the attack on the Strip, a report from Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor found that nine out of 10 children in Gaza suffer from some form of conflict-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Psychiatrist Yasser Abu Jamei, who heads the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), says the reason why most children in Gaza show slow progress in terms of mental health is that they have to live with the constant threat of a new trauma hanging over them.
“During Ramadan, Palestinian families in Gaza were wondering if there was going to be another attack, and children were not far from this atmosphere, which eventually led to even more stress and anxiety,” he told MEE.