Gazans face psychological toll in face of Israeli attacks

Gazans face psychological toll in face of Israeli attacks
Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:25:32

The Israeli regime's ongoing military assault in the Gaza Strip is exacerbating a mental health crisis in the besieged enclave as Gazans struggle to sustain coping mechanisms under the constant fear of death.

Aside from the huge physical death toll -- over 170 have been killed and at least 1,000 injured since the assault began -- 1.8 million Gazans live in a state of permanent anxiety as families are unable to find refuge from airstrikes, drones, and naval bombings in the densely populated enclave.

Rana Nashashibi, a psychologist with the Palestinian Counseling Center, told Ma'an that not knowing when, or how, you could die amid widespread carnage has a deliberate dis-empowering effect on Gazans, part of the psychological warfare used by the Israeli regime to weaken the population.

"It is always parallel to the conventional warfare of military power, using psychological warfare on people. The main aim is to make people feel helpless and debilitated," Nashashibi said.

The Israeli blockade on Gaza, imposed in 2007, has depleted the resources and energy of Gazans in facing the severe challenges of military attacks, she noted.

Adults and children in the Gaza Strip suffer from high levels of psychological trauma which inevitably increase during periods of intense violent conflict, medical professionals say.

Following Israel's war on Gaza in Nov. 2012, the incidence of psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder rose by 100 percent, according to UNRWA.

UNICEF released findings following the 2012 attack which showed a 91 percent increase in sleep disturbances among children, with 85 percent of adults reporting a loss of appetite.

There was also a notable increase in the incidence of miscarriage among pregnant women, UNRWA said.

Sleep disorders, bed-wetting, anxiety, and psychosomatic symptoms such as heart problems, high blood pressure, and even cancer, are a result of living in continuous fear, Nashashibi warned.


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