In Gaza, the colour red is all too familiar. When collective punishment is indiscriminate, both the young and old are harmed. The injuries sustained routinely go beyond physical damage into lasting memories of trauma.
Doctors are trained to operate on broken bones, but you cannot attach splints and casts to broken spirits. Perhaps the most enduring tragedy of the occupation is the psychological impact on the civilian population, particularly amongst children. From home raids to classroom bombings, Palestinian children have witnessed a kind of violence that no child should have to encounter.
Understandably, almost all children who have witnessed the brutal machinery of the occupation go on to develop symptoms of stress and anxiety. In the West Bank, over half the cases of trauma are severe and affect daily functioning. In the Gaza Strip, 54% of those suffering from complex anxiety disorders such as PTSD are under the age of 12. What many fail to realise is that trauma does not have to be directly witnessed to be experienced. The inheritance of dispossession and diasporic pain passes down family lines, meaning that later generations continue to experience complex emotional issues due to learnt patterns of behaviour.
Recently, healthcare facilities have reported the chronic depletion of medical supplies. In the aftermath of the 2014 assault, the Israeli Defence Forces have placed severe restrictions on the import of all goods entering the Gaza Strip, including medical supplies. This strangulation has resulted in hospitals being ill-equipped to provide even basic medical attention to patients in need, with household first-aid supplies reaching zero-stock levels in many cases.
The lack of supplies means that chronic patients living in Gaza and the West Bank are unable to receive treatment. For the minority who can afford treatment abroad, travel to neighbouring Jordan or Tel Aviv must be approved by the authorities.
Interpal’s #ChanceToLive medical aid fund focuses on developing a holistic approach to healthcare in Palestine, paying special attention to providing training, mental health and trauma therapies and combating community stigma towards people with disabilities. If you would like to donate, call us on 0208 961 9993 or visit www.interpal.org