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Israel Traumatizes Gaza Children

Published: 19/12/2012 09:18:22 PM GMT
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GAZA CITY - Terrified by the sounds of daily raids and explosions in their seaside enclave, Palestinian children are paying the heaviest price of the deadly Israeli onslaughts on the Gaza Strip.“We don't want the war, it's (more)

GAZA CITY - Terrified by the sounds of daily raids and explosions in their seaside enclave, Palestinian children are paying the heaviest price of the deadly Israeli onslaughts on the Gaza Strip.

“We don't want the war, it's scary and awful,” 12-year-old Mohammad Radwan told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“We want peace, we want a truce.”

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Radwan feels terrified when he hears the sounds of Israeli jet planes bombing the Gaza Strip.

“When I hear the bombing I get onto the sofa and cover myself with pillows to try to be safe. I try to hide myself as much as possible,” the young boy says.

“Sometimes I go over to my mum and hold onto her too,” he adds, slapping another boy who teases him for the admission.

Israel has mounted deadly attacks on Gaza over the past week in response to Palestinian rocket fire.

At least 135 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured since Israel began its war on the Palestinian enclave on Wednesday.

At least 34 children were among those killed in the Israeli attacks, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

In an attack that invoked world condemnations, Israel killed 11 members of one family in an attack on their house in central Gaza earlier this week.

“Do children fire rockets?” a man screamed through a loudspeaker ahead of the funeral of Al-Dalou family.

“No!” the crowd chanted back.

Israel escalated attacks on Gaza on Wednesday as efforts continued to reach a ceasefire between the Jewish state and Palestinians.

Israel's best-selling Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said an emerging outline of a ceasefire agreement called for Egypt to announce a 72-hour ceasefire followed by further talks on long-term understandings.

Under the proposed document, which the newspaper said neither party would be required to sign, Israel would hold its fire, end attacks in Gaza and promise to examine ways to ease its blockade of the enclave.

Hamas, the report said, would pledge not to strike any Israeli target and ensure other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip also stop their attacks.


Thirteen-year-old Ezzedine Hussein is full of bravado at first, talking over the other boys not to be afraid of the Israeli attacks.

“We want to say to the Jews: ‘We're not scared, we are defending our land and we want our rights,'” the green-blue-eyed boy says.

He, however, acknowledges the explosions that rumble through Gaza's nights do shake him.

“The war scares us, of course, it's killing children and we see what happens to our friends,” he says.

“I do get scared but I try to calm myself down. I pray and I ask God to protect us.”

Rushi, a 15-year-old boy, says he knew the Dalou family.

“It's so sad when we see them,” said Rushi, the elder brother of Mohammed.

“It makes me want to cry because I knew them, they were from our area.”

Psychologist Hasan Zeyada says that Gaza's children are paying the heaviest price for the ongoing violence in Gaza.

“All the things that can help adults - social networks, previous experiences and so on - are not available to children,” Zeyada, who works with the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, told AFP.

The trauma manifests itself in multiple ways, he says, with children becoming terrified to be left alone, experiencing sleep disorders, becoming aggressive or uncommunicative, and losing the ability to concentrate.

For many of Gaza's children, the current war will be the second they have lived through in a few years.

“They will re-experience a lot of the trauma they have from the past,” Zeyada said.

More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured in a three-week Israeli onslaught on Gaza in 2008.

“The problem here in Gaza is that we are living in a high level of stress and ongoing trauma,” Zeyada said.“No one can guarantee that this will not happen again.”

Reproduced with permission from