Gaza children “emotionally shattered” one year after conflict

The majority of children living in areas of Gaza hardest-hit during last year's conflict are showing signs of severe emotional distress and trauma, including frequent bed wetting and nightmares, a global children's charity said on Monday.

Palestinian children look out through a bus window as they wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip June 23, 2015.

The majority of children living in areas of Gaza hardest-hit during last year’s conflict are showing signs of severe emotional distress and trauma, including frequent bed wetting and nightmares, a global children’s charity said on Monday.

A ceasefire last August ended 50 days of fighting between Gaza militants and Israel, in which health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

Israeli air strikes and shelling hammered the densely populated Gaza Strip, dominated by the Islamist Hamas movement, causing widespread destruction of homes, schools and other buildings.

Hamas and other militant groups launched thousands of rockets and mortar bombs from the Palestinian enclave into Israel. [ID: nL8N0Z81K9]

Some 551 children were killed in Gaza and 3,436 were injured during the conflict, while an estimated 1,500 lost their parents, according to a report by Save the Children.

More than 70 percent of children in the worst-affected areas of Gaza suffer from regular nightmares and bed wetting and live in fear of further fighting, while half do not want to attend school because they are afraid to leave home, the charity said.

“We saw our home being destroyed. I was crying because we have memories and dreams there, from the day of our birth. My memories, pictures, clothes, toys … everything is gone. I can’t live, I only feel pain,” a 12-year-old girl told the charity.


Homelessness and repeated exposure to violence, coupled with soaring unemployment for parents and limited mental health support, have prevented children from recovering from the mental trauma of war, according to Save the Children.

Around 100,000 people in Gaza are still homeless a year on from the conflict, while major reconstruction of health facilities, water networks and schools has yet to begin, the charity said.

Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip after the Islamist movement Hamas won power there in elections in 2006, and the flow of reconstruction materials into the territory has been greatly restricted since the end of the 2014 conflict.

So slow has the influx of goods been that the United Nations last month said it could take 30 years to repair the damage.

The continued blockade and threat of renewed conflict has made it difficult for children in Gaza to live normal lives, according to Save the Children.

“Many children in Gaza have now lived through three wars in the past seven years, the last one notable for its brutality. They are emotionally and, in some cases, physically shattered,” Save the Children CEO Justin Forsyth said in a statement.

Of the 1.8 million people living in Gaza – a population growing by 50,000 a year – nearly two-thirds are dependent on aid in some form or another. It is the United Nation’s longest-running relief operation, set up in 1949.

(Reporting by Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit

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Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

37 Responses to Gaza children “emotionally shattered” one year after conflict

  1. The Truth July 7, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Good to see these two governments have succeeded in generating the next generation of sociopaths to continue the fighting in for the next 50 years.

    • Suzie July 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Both governments have their faults, but comparing the Israeli government which builds bomb shelters throughout Tel Aviv in Israel to protect its own civilians is incomparable with what Hamas does to protect its civilians.

      • The Truth July 7, 2015 at 12:53 pm

        Which is completely irrelevant when stating, simply, that both sides have done things that strengthen the hatred between them. That is all I am pointing out.

        • jackschitt July 7, 2015 at 12:54 pm

          But if Israel is the aggressor why would Hamas spend its money on rockets and tunnels instead of bomb shelters?

          • Daniel Blaney July 7, 2015 at 12:55 pm

            Try thinking of it like this, no one is saying that Hamas is morally superior to Israel in anyway, everyone acknowledges that Hamas is a sadistic terrorist organisation so it should be common sense that Israel is at the very least more reasonable than Hamas. That being said, when people talk about this conflict, they’re usually talking about what happened last year and how Hamas used human shields to make Israel look bad. While that’s true, the one thing I never understood is why did Israel still fire at densely populated areas if they knew that Hamas was forcing people to stay in those areas? I mean they knew that Hamas was using it’s own population as a human shield, and they even knew that they forced people to stay in their buildings and neighborhoods at gunpoint. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t that pretty much a hostage situation? And what makes even less sense is that the IDF still chose to fire at these areas knowing that people were being forced at gunpoint to stay in those areas.
            No matter how you look at it, Israel deserves a good chunk of the blame for the current state of this conflict, not all of it, or even the majority of it, but definitely its fair share. And please don’t go and turn this into a history argument because based on my own experience with arguments like this, people seem to only know the bits and pieces of history that supports their views rather than the whole story. I’m not a scholar on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but I have read books, done a lot of research, and taken classes on this issue and based on all the info I’ve read/learned, for every story there is about Palestinians being antisemitic or attacking Israelis/Jews, there’s a story about Israelis/Jews either instigating such behavior or retaliating to such behavior. The problem is both sides think they’re the victims when in actuality the 2 sides have been victimizing each other pretty equally for the last 1000 years.
            Edit: Sigh, yes I get the politics behind the reasoning as to why Israel retaliated, but when the majority of those rockets are just hitting empty land and only 6 Israeli citizens are killed by rockets compared to over 1000 Palestinian civilians (who are being held at gunpoint) being killed in retaliation to those rockets, proportionality should be taken into account. Not to mention the IDF taking responsibility for basically firing missiles at hostages.

          • Sam July 7, 2015 at 12:56 pm

            As someone honestly on neither side since I don’t know enough about the conflict, the human shield rebuttal you have is honestly ridiculous, it genuinely sounds like you are saying they need to literally roll over and just be hit by rockets and have their people killed and do nothing in retaliation.

          • filmcostar July 7, 2015 at 12:56 pm

            There is no evidence to suggest Hamas use Palestinians as human shields…but check YouTube and you’ll find many sources where the IDF use Palestinian kids to open doors and bags ahead of their troops…

          • Shar July 7, 2015 at 12:57 pm

            You guys know what the hilarious thing is? This is a comment which can be, and is, legitimately used by both sides.
            You’d figure someone might have noticed the circular nature of this reasoning by now, but here we are a full generation later, and still no end in sight.
            Guess I’ll just wait another thirty years. See if anyone wants to try to solve the problem of rockets being fired through methods other than firing rockets then.

          • Mevotex July 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm

            Well every time a peace accord is brought up Hamas refuse to talk to Israel or Hamas tries to get a last attack in before the talks and Israel refuses to show up until they can get a few Hamas members. There have been peace offers in the past quite a few were extremely one sided by both Israel and Hamas, but others have been quite fair and it tends to be Hamas turning the fair ones down. No one wants peace that is in power for either side.

          • tom cruise July 7, 2015 at 1:01 pm

            18,000 rockets aimed haphazardly at citizens. If that’s not a reason why I for the life of me can’t understand what would ever be the reason to return fire.

  2. Jason Rudolph Kruger July 7, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Your whole view of proportionality in war is incorrect. It is not about an equal casualty count or equal firepower. Proportionality is the weight of the military goal versus the weight of the civilian suffering. Attacking Hamas in a urban area is acceptable because the alternative is to do nothing. What almost all people on Reddit seem to lack is vision; to understand what could have transpired without action. Doing nothing would have endangered more Israelis and cities. No government can stand for such a thing, and to avoid damage to its population centers, the Israeli military acted accordingly to eliminate the threat, using the means necessary to do so.

    • The Real Irish July 7, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      But it was Israel that forced so many people into such a small space, so you can’t really ignore the causality numbers because it just takes us back through the loop of where to place the blame.

      • Mevotex July 7, 2015 at 1:03 pm

        Your point hardly reassigns blame, or changes the necessity of Israeli actions. Israeli policy makers aren’t going to change their decisions to protect citizens based on some false responsibility of how it came to be a heavily urbanised area. How they got there is irrelevant. IF you insist on pressing the point, mass movement there was due to flight from conflict, not from a institutionalised plan to move Arabs to there.

        • Ghandi July 7, 2015 at 1:03 pm

          Proportionality? That means you would think better of Israel if they let more of their civilians die. Fuck that.
          As to ‘why’ they need to stop rockets that mostly hit empty land, it is simple ballistics. You leave a launcher in place and I can teach a kid with basic physics background how to walk the rockets into a major target. Actually I wouldn’t even need to do that I could make a program for it.

  3. Kevin Kent July 7, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Since when has Hamas tried to protect it’s citizens? My understanding is instead of protecting the people from attacks they have encouraged people to retaliate for attacks against them. Causing the Israeli to retaliate against those attacks, causing Hamas to retaliate against that attack, causing Israel to retaliate back, and forth and back and forth forever. This conflict is never going to stop until one side takes the high ground and refuses to retaliate at all, regardless of who attacked who first. In my opinion the one who should take the high ground is the one who wants to be considered the more civilized society. Exactly who that would be is up to them to decide.

    • Suzie July 7, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      What world do you live in where a unilateral decision not to retaliate no matter what leads to peace? That’s called an unconditional surrender, and I guess you’re right that would lead to peace. But you will completely lose your country and government and most of your rights. You might get those back in a few years like West Germany. Or you might need a revolution to get them back, which seems like it defeats the point.

      • Rudo July 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

        MLK, Ghandhi, Mandela.
        Funny, but to me passivity seems to be one of the most effective ways to achieve peace.
        (Mandela even had to learn that approach through years of suffering. Amazing that fighting back earned nothing but death, while forgiveness earned him the freedom of his people. )

      • yadayada July 7, 2015 at 1:10 pm

        Is that what happened to Japan after they attacked the US and then lost the war? I can’t seem to remember.

        • Terence Jones July 7, 2015 at 1:10 pm

          US does not have a history of encroachment on Japanese territory. South Korea and Japan were also treated quite well to avoid having them fall to Soviet influence. The situations are quite different.

          • friskdingo July 7, 2015 at 1:11 pm

            The US had a significant history of encroachment on South-East Asian and Oceania territories (Philippines, American Samoa, etc,). It’s even been argued that the extensive American base complexes in Korea and Japan qualify as colonies by some of the more extreme nationalistic elements of both countries.
            The reason you remember history the way you do is because of the outcome, not because of the actions that led to it.

          • Abraham Linco July 7, 2015 at 1:12 pm

            We’re specifically talking about Japan. US and Japan were friendly before WWII. The only issue they had before that was when US ended their isolationism and opened them up for trade via threat of force.
            %93United_States_relations#Pre.E2.80.93World_War_II_periodUS bases in Japan behave nothing like colonies for expansion. The soldiers are not there to settle down with a family and take root.

          • Terence Jones July 7, 2015 at 1:12 pm

            I get what you’re saying. My point is, the violence doesn’t seem to have fixed anything, perhaps it’s time for a new tactic. All the violence seems to do is enrich the leaders of Hamas.
            The reason so many people support Israel is because they see Israel facing an opponent who has in its founding charter things directly quoting protocols of elder zion (a fabricated anti-semitic pamphlet) and quotes like “Article 6 Hamas is uniquely Palestinian, and “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned.””, etc.

          • Mevotex July 7, 2015 at 1:13 pm

            The issue is from both sides. If Palestinian personal contact with Israel is mostly through aid and assistance rather than soldiers it would help to humanize Israel. but that won’t happen because it’s dangerous. Vice versa if you don’t see anything good Israel except dead relatives, collateral damage, and restriction of resources and opportunities, then you may not care about much but to go down fighting.
            If Israel want to make a difference, they should make their top priority to stop the rogue settlers instead of razing settlements every few often and two more spring back. Then perhaps they should try hosting random Gazans outside of the Middle East, all over the world and away from the fear and suffering, and let them see the world to form their own free opinions to bring back or at least communicate back. Then perhaps there will be more discussion instead of just perceived propaganda. Either way, inside the frying pan is not the place to form sane opinions.

          • Donell McGriff July 7, 2015 at 1:14 pm

            There is a big difference between switching from an offensive combat stance to a defensive one and the act of surrendering to ones enemies. To claim they are the same is nothing but the kind of ignorant hyperbole I’d expect from one of Fox’s talking heads. I know it’s a strong belief in America that the best defense is a strong offense but in reality that kind of thinking only applies to situations were the objective is victory, in this case there is no chance of victory for either side so the objective should be peace. Are you really claiming that if Israel stopped launching attacks against Gaza and instead focused on defending their people from attacks that would lead to Hama victory? You either have a laughable understanding of the capabilities of the Israeli army or you are massively overestimating Hama’s military capability.

  4. The Truth July 7, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    The best defense is to have the capability for a strong offense

    • Gerald Muise July 7, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      I feel I have to correct something here – Israel has not ‘launched attacks’ against Gaza. From what you say it sounds like Israel would just decide “hey, lets bomb someone!”. This is certainly not the case. Israel had been the target of multiple rocket attacks before starting their last offensive. The fact that it has invested heavily in better defensive measures doesn’t mean the country should sit and watch the fireworks, hoping nothing goes wrong and Israelis are killed.
      If Gazan parents care for their childrens future, they would work to end the position Hamas is taking.

      I also have to note that there are emeny children in Israel who were traumatized by repeatedly having to run for shelter, worrying about how far they are from a shelter and whether the ‘Iron Dome’ system would work against the next rocket volley. The fact that few Israeli civilians were hurt is not for lack of trying by Hamas. They aren’t firing into the desert, to prove that they could. Rockets were aimed into civilian population centers.

      • Donell McGriff July 7, 2015 at 6:06 pm

        I never said that Israel is just bombing them for the sake of it. My original comment clearly stated that this is a cycle of retaliation. Nor did I say that Israel is the one who must stop retaliating first. I said that the only way this cycle of violence is going to end is for one side to stop the violence first. Blood begets blood afterall. Yes Israelis have been killed by Palestine, many Palestinians have been killed by Israel. Yes the Palestinians should force Hamas to stop attacking, Israelis should also be demanding their government stop the occupation and blatant abuses of power of the IDF. Yes there are children who have been traumatized on the Israeli side, there are just as many traumatized kids in Palestine. Yes there is no such thing as a 100% perfect defense. Yes the side who makes such a decision would leave themselves vulnerable for a time. However in the end none of this really matters. If peace is the objective it will never be achieved until one side stops hitting back, until one side is willing to forgive (but not forget) and try to move forward. The side who does removes the “we are defending ourselves, we are retaliating” justification from the aggressor side. You cannot defend yourself from someone who isn’t attacking you, so any continued aggression would become indefensible.

  5. Daniel Blaney July 7, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Hamas does less than nothing to protect civilians in Gaza, and the opposite is true, they are used as shields to protect their militants and as PR opportunities when they get caught in the crossfire because of this.

  6. James July 7, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Strange how this defence always concentrates on the defensive measures Israel takes for its civilians, and not the indifference it shows to Palestinian civilians in it’s offensives that takes such a toll on Palestinians
    Let’s flip it this way. Last year hamas killed 67 soldiers and 5 civilians, whereas Israel takes pride for killing at a rate of 1:1 and 400 children in the same period.
    We get it Israel protects it’s civilians well from hamas. Hamas simply cannot protect its people from Israeli airstrikes that target schools and and UN safezones and children on the streets and on the beach and in their homes

  7. kingmarley July 7, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Yes. Hamas spends most of their new materials digging tunnels into Israel and creating a huge elevated defense bastion on the north GAZA, then complain they have not money or materials needed to rebuild the homes for their people, which their foolish attacks on Israel created.
    As most always dictatorships are parasitic, destructive and ignore their people’s needs for the desires of the few.

  8. bloateddotted July 7, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Serious question, is the Gaza Strip a relatively safe place for NGOs?

    • filmcostar July 7, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Er, well. It depends. You need to toe two contradictory lines, Hamas and Israel. My friend worked in Gaza before and said it’s a shitshow, but your average person there has no way to escape it and there’s a lot of unemployment and shaky amounts of aid coming in. So people are basically stuck in crowded conditions, stewing in hunger and resentment. You have to make sure you don’t offend Hamas while hanging around, but you also can’t offend the IDF or else you’ll never come back to Gaza. Some IDF soldiers, according to my friend, think conditions are deplorable for Gazans but are worried about getting in trouble if they speak up about it. Apparently your average Israeli thinks that the suffering is just anti-Jewish propaganda or even argue that the Gazans deserve it for… not leaving? It’s bizarre. It’s just a mess of gray and blood, in the end, with no right answers but a lot of fury.

  9. justpassingby July 7, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    It kind of sucks when your gov’t is a group of terrorists whose only goal is to gain world pity by having their citizens killed.

    • Lee July 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      You hit the nail on the head. Poor kids. But every time Hamas starts a war they get donations and attention, so the cycle continues.

      • The Truth July 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

        Its far more complex than that. Hamas had halted rockets for well over a year and had been cracking down on others firing rockets out of gaza too. The kidnapping and subsequent murder of some Israeli hitch-hikers changed all that.
        Netanyahu was keen to try and claim that Hamas had ordered it, but there was little evidence that he could point too. He claimed that evidence would soon be made public but it never surfaced:
        Israel has conclusive evidence that Hamas is behind the June 12 kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, and is passing that evidence on to several other countries before releasing it publicly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning. (june 22, 2014 : times of israel).
        The ensuring crackdown in the westbank led to Hamas responding with rockets. That’s how we get to war (oddly enough one of the first groups killed by Israel attacks where the very Hamas teams responsible for cracking down on rocket fire out of gaza).
        People trying to calm down the situation were ignored. The resulting Israeli invasion ended up killing around a 1000 Palestinians and Hamas rocket attacks killed several Israelis too. If securing civilian life was the aim, it looks like the operation cost more lives on both sides than it saved.
        the_raucous_one is claiming that evidence was released and I’m liar. Problem with this claim is that the supposed evidence (which itself is highly problematic) only existed 2 months after Netanyahu’s claims! So unless Netanyahu is a time traveller, my point stands.

        • The Real Irish July 7, 2015 at 6:14 pm

          What makes me fucking rage inside is thinking about how fucking terrified these kids must be at the world they were born in to, and then realizing that in a decade, they’ll be the ones perpetuating the fight. This shit begins to erode my confidence that reason even exists at all.

  10. groovy July 7, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    What a bunch of bull. Propaganda based on total ignorance.
    According to official UN and WHO statistics, by every measure of public health and development, ie infant mortality, maternal and child mortality, life expectancy, access to medical care, sanitation, running water, electricity, literacy and education etc. Gaza is better off than the vast majority of the developing world. Gaza is more well of than most of the Arab League countries even.
    In Africa alone there are 700 million people without any electricity, any running water and any sewage treatment. These are the actual poor of the Earth, not Gaza.
    And their poverty is not caused deliberately by a crazy government that repeatedly provokes wars neighbors hundreds of times more militarily powerful than they are. And these actual poor of the earth don’t get the masses of foreign aid the far richer Gaza gets either.
    So cut the pity party bs propaganda, thanks.


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