Thu, 28 Sep 2023

GAZA, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Nightmares haunt Hanin Abu Obaid, an 11-year-old girl in the Gaza Strip after she lost her family's houses during the Israeli airstrikes earlier in May.

"Once I fall asleep, I heard heavy explosions around me. I dream that the Israeli army attacked my house and killed my family," said the girl, who now lives in a rental house in Dir al-Balah, central Gaza.

"Even when I wake up and open my eyes, the nightmares do not end. Whenever I hear any loud noises, I would think it's another Israeli airstrike," she lamented, adding that she now is afraid of going out to play with her friends for safety reasons.

Mohammed al-Dirawi, a ten-year-old residing next door to Hanin, experiences a similar trauma. He told Xinhua that his life has turned upside down since his house was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike targeting the area.

"Before the conflict, I used to play with my friends in the streets, go to school, and live as normal as other children in Gaza, but now I cannot do that because I am afraid of being subjected to new Israeli attacks," the boy said.

A report published by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor in 2021 presents a distressing reality: nine out of ten children in Gaza suffer from some form of trauma resulting from Israeli military operations within the besieged enclave.

Sami Owaida, a Gaza-based psychiatrist and head of the nongovernmental Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, estimated that more than half of Gaza's youth, including children, may require psychological support following the recent period of heightened tension between Gaza and Israel.

"The relentless Israeli attacks disrupt the delicate balance of human behavior, affecting both adults and children. The resulting psychological trauma manifests in various behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and physical responses," said the psychiatrist.

He stressed the profound toll the Israeli military operations exact on the psychological and behavioral well-being of Palestinian children, adding that local psychiatrists have observed symptoms such as sleep deprivation, anxiety, bed-wetting, and a clinging dependence on parents due to decreased outdoor activities among children who have witnessed military tensions.

"The Gazan children in particular and people in general need to live in peace and find a final solution to the conflict with Israel to bring life back to normal," Owaida added.

Produced by Xinhua Global Service

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