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News > Palestine

Gaza's Children in Dire Need of Psychological Support

  • A child injured by Israeli bombings in Gaza, Nov. 9, 2023.

    A child injured by Israeli bombings in Gaza, Nov. 9, 2023. | Photo: X/ @SprinterX99880

Published 9 November 2023

The traumas from witnessing conflict, bloodshed, and destruction are hard to erase from the memory of these generations.

Mohammed al-Amasi, a Gaza-based young Palestinian, took the initiative with five colleagues to launch an education-through-fun program to help ease the mental stress of child war survivors in the conflict-ravaged enclave.


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Every day, the volunteer group visits schools-turned-refugee centers, one after another across Gaza, to bring laughter and play to the displaced children and their families. Drawing, story-telling, singing, playing with clowns, and telling stories are among the activities aimed at helping the children cope with fear and anxiety during a time of turmoil and loss.

"Children are usually the most affected by the war. Not to say a large proportion of them have yet to recover from the psychological shocks encountered in previous wars," Al-Amasi said.

"This war is the worst of all, not only for children but also for adults. Israeli raids are wiping out entire families," he said, adding they have seen child survivors trapped in lingering thoughts and fears about death, long after they had narrowly escaped an attack.

Since October 7, incessant Israeli bombings have plunged more than 2.3 million people in Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, with very limited access to food and water, no fuel for electricity, and the collapse of the health system.

On Wednesday, the 33rd day of the ongoing conflict, Gaza-based health ministry said the Israeli strikes on Gaza has killed at least 10,569 Palestinians, including 4,324 children. Meanwhile, nearly 1.5 million Palestinians are internally displaced in the besieged enclave.

"Living in such precarious security situations, some children have appeared self-isolating and developed other involuntary reactions from traumas, while others become more violent than they were before the war," it noted.

Suzan Ayyad, a 39-year-old mother of four, denounced that all her children have begun to lose bladder control even during daytime, especially when they hear the blast of a bomb.

"Unfortunately, the Israeli weapons do not differentiate between a child and an adult, nor between a civilian and a soldier," she said.

Heba Al-Rayes, another launcher of the program, said the games not only allowed the stressed kids to let off steam, but also gave them a sense of control and belonging, knowing that people still care about them. Take the girls' sprint race for example, she said, their parents would also gather around to give them rounds of cheers and applauses.

"Almost every adult here in Gaza experienced the same tragedy at some point in their lives, that's why we all can relate," she noted.

Fadel Abu Hin, a psychological expert in Gaza, said that "the psychological impact of conflicts and wars varies from one person to another."

"Some people develop mental illnesses such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder, and others become more hostile toward life in general, and those close to them in particular," he added.

Abu Hin praised local efforts for child mental health, adding the work is challenging as workers themselves have also been under the shock of war, especially if they lost a loved one.

The traumas from witnessing conflict, bloodshed, and destruction are hard to erase from the memory of these generations, and aside from medical aid, Gaza is in dire need of psychological support for the conflict survivors, he noted.

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