GAZA STRIP (Dispatches) – Screams, air raids by the Zionist regime, scattered pools of blood and constant fears and nightmares, this is how the children of Gaza live their lives. With every war they witness, the feelings and scenes are repeated in their minds and work to distort their view of the world, which they see as a place of war and in which they must constantly prepare for losing their lives, homes, their loved ones at any moment.
Samah Jabr, head of the mental health unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, says that the authorities do not have enough shelters and safe locations to protect citizens from the Zionist regime’s strikes, which force children to live in a constant state of fear. Even the slightest noise can cause panic, she explained.
Lucia Elmi, UNICEF’s special representative in Palestine, said what is happening in Palestine is a severe manifestation of trauma and destruction, adding that this will affect the children who live there and the future generations.
Elmi emphasized that before the last wave of violence inflicted on the Palestinians by the occupation, UNICEF stated that one in every three children in Gaza needs psychological and social assistance, however the recent bombing will increase the numbers. Gaza’s children, she said, are living in a battlefield.
Asad Ashour, education coordinator at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) – Gaza, said that the escalation of violence exacerbated children’s fear, increased their negative perception of the world, and exposed many of them to trauma.
He asserted that a large number of Palestinian children suffer from an inability to focus, nightmares and constant personality shifts, in addition to irritation and constant fear of death, whether for themselves or their families.
Ashour stressed that children in Palestine are unable to enjoy a normal childhood, have fun, visit each other, and go to parks, because they fear with every outing they risk losing their loved ones to a missile strike. As a result, they live in constant fear of doing anything.
Gaza’s children, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Global Health Sciences Jess Ghannam explained, suffer most from having no safe place to go and no escape from the trauma.