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News number: 8711091268

15:00 | 2009-01-28


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Israeli Invasion of Gaza Leaves Traumatic Effects on Palestinian Children

TEHRAN (FNA)- The 22-day Israeli invasion of Gaza has caused trauma among many Palestinian children and put them in psychological distress.

"The kids are finding it hard to get back to the old routine," Dr. Rawya al-Burno, a psychiatry consultant in Gaza, said on Tuesday.

She explained that there have been "countless damages" from the war on Gaza, but noted that the longest lasting are "the psychological damages that occur in kids, how they suffer... losing the feeling of safety, sticking close to their parents, losing the ability to sleep, to focus, and to eat."

For the first three weeks of the new year, the children had been woken up by explosions and now it is difficult for them to get back to normal life, she says.

According to press tv, there are many children that have more "severe reactions, like uncontrolled urination," she stated, adding they will face even more psychological distress in the long run.

As school started again and life returned to a somewhat normal pattern, UNRWA schools prepared for the psychological trauma that would return to classrooms with the children.

With this in mind, UNRWA schools started a support program intended to engage the students in several activities that help them release the fears.

A student, for example, was asked to write a letter to all the kids around the world. She wrote, "My name is Aseel and I am 8 years old. I have the right to live, study and play, but the Israelis took all of that away from me."

She said writing the letter helped give her some relief, adding she wrote the letter to a child her age but who did not have to face the war in Gaza. Aseel then looked up and asked "Why do other children enjoy their life, and we don't?"

Teachers asked students to draw to show their feelings or experiences and to have small discussions with classmates to share what happened to them during the war. Small drama classes were organized where students acted out feelings and frustrations or reenacted situations that made them frightened.

Even normal play in the school grounds was a chance for students to let out their feelings and help them regain a sense of safety and normalcy.

Dr. al-Burno said the fastest way to deal with post-traumatic stress of this degree in children is by using psycho-drama. The method allows the children to re-play events of the war in a safe space where they can move past and even conquer the fears associated with the events, she explained according to the report.