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Sunday Jan. 9, 2011 10:25 AM (EST+7)
Two years on, Gazans still living the trauma of war

Read more: mental health, trauma, psychiatry, health, war on Gaza, Gaza war, Jabalia, Jabaliya

GAZA CITY, January 9 (JMCC) - Two years after the Israeli war on Gaza, thousands of Gaza’s residents who lost loved ones or property continue to struggle with trauma.

International and local organizations have conducted programs of psychological support in Gaza, especially for those who experienced death or were directly hurt. But the trauma appears larger than even these attempts.

Moien Deeb, from Jabalia refugee camp, lost his mother, wife, and five children in the war.

Until now and forever, I will never forget it - my loved ones still live on in my imagination, in my heart, in my mind, living every moment with me, Deeb said, sighing.

I lost eleven, imagine? Eleven. Mother, wife, children, siblings, nieces and nephews, and still others wounded. One of my brothers lost his legs. Do you think I could forget?! he said, wondering aloud.

Deeb says that his life was turned upside down.

I miss sleeping,” he says. “I lie awake all night and sleep just a couple of hours in the day. I feel a stranger to this life. I dislike it.


Deeb says he expects another Israeli war against Gaza.
However, he says, I do not care what will happen to me. There is no loss larger than what I have lost, but still I am scared that the rest of our family will be murdered.
Deeb's 22-year-old sister-in-law, Ahlam, lost her 24-year-old husband, Mohammed, four months after their wedding day. She, too, was wounded in the same airstrike.

I remember the attack occurred on Tuesday. On Tuesdays, I remember the tragedy.”
Ahlam married the brother of her dead husband.

“I still live in the same family and every day feel the influence of war on us, says Ahlam.


Psychiatrist Saleem Abu Mansour says that it is particularly difficult for Gazans to forget the war because of ongoing skirmishes.

The repeated Israeli airstrikes, the Israeli threats of a new war, drones hovering in the sky and sound of artillery - all of these elements force them to live in war, says Abu Mansour.

The psychiatrist says that parents who lose their children typically need 10 or 15 years to ease the trauma if they change their general surroundings.

But Israeli officials and commanders have warned in recent weeks that Israel could launch another military operation in Gaza.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week against starting a new war in Gaza.

“Operation Cast Lead” was launched late in December 2008. Approximately 1500 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed and homes and infrastructure destroyed.
On the 11th day of the war, January 6, 2009, at least 40 Palestinians, were killed when Israeli jetfighters launched at least three airstrikes around al-Fakhura school run by the United Nations in Jabalia refugee camp. Deeb’s family was killed in one of these airstrikes.


On Thursday, residents participated in a commemoration of those who died that day. Twelve-year-old Abdallah Baroud recalled his friends Bilal, Bashar, Ismail and Hassan who were killed in the Israeli airstrike.

Blackout, candles, kerosene cooker and long nights: I remember. Every day I look in the mirror, remember my friends and ask why they were murdered,” said Abdullah in a speech.
“I do not find an answer. He, too, was wounded in the attack.

Um Ayed Abdallah says that a pain she carries in her chest has not eased for the two years since the slaying of her child.

Her 10-year-old son, Mohammed, was killed in the same incident.

Two years ago, or even ten years, it does not matter. They seem like two minutes. If I lived hundreds of years I will never ever forget, she said, a little girl on her lap.

This is my daughter,” Um Ayed said, looking at the girl. “She is five years old. In the war she was three years old, and until today she suffers from shock.






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