Gaza Gripped by Crisis
Israel's committing slow-motion genocide against 1.7 million people.
by Stephen Lendman
Punishing years under siege, Cast Lead's devastation, and regular IDF air, land and sea attacks took a terrible toll on Gazans physically, economically and emotionally.
In 2010, Doctors Without Borders (Medicine Sans Frontiers) said over half of children under age 12 need mental health help. Moreover, one-third of cases are severe.
Gaza Community Mental Health Program PR Director Husam El Nounou blamed crisis conditions on closure and regular Israeli attacks. Begun in 1993, it stiffened markedly after the second Intifada began.
Following Hamas' January 2006 legislative victory, harsher people traffic and goods restrictions were imposed. In June 2007, siege compounded partial isolation. As a result, hopelessness, virtual imprisonment, and regular Israeli attacks affect all Gazans, especially young children and youths.
According to Husam:
"The effect is most felt by those who are in greatest need of travel such as students studying abroad, the sick requiring medical attention unavailable in Gaza, and people whose work requires them to travel or trade in exports and imports."
The World Health Organization (WHO) calls the link between physical and mental health well documented. Closure caused food shortages. Nutritional deficiencies and poor physical health resulted. In combination with inadequate healthcare and other deprivation, emotional problems developed.
Without imports and spare parts, sanitation facilities can't operate properly. According to a Gaza Mental Health Community Program study, mental health outcomes deteriorated markedly in the past five years. Depression increased 17.7%, and 95% of those surveyed felt imprisoned.
Cast Lead and regular Israeli attacks heighten crisis conditions. Over 82% of Gazan children felt endangered during Cast Lead. Two-thirds fear more war, and over 40% want revenge.
Other research found similar results. Islamic University in Gaza's Jameel Tahrawi analyzed children's drawings. He found over 82% related to Cast Lead. A comparable UN study found two-thirds of respondents experienced worse health outcomes since the war. In most cases, it's emotionally related.
According to Husam, "(w)omen especially tend to bury mental health problems as they may reduce chances of marriage."
In contrast, men become more violent. Women and children bear the brunt. Children are less attentive in school. Their educational outcomes and later life opportunities suffer. Feelings of entrapment result.