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Mental health of Palestinians

On July 8, 2014, the Israeli army launched an attack against the population of Gaza Strip that lasted for 51 days, causing the death of 2,147 people and 64 unidentified. This attack caused the destruction of infrastructures, particularly water supplies and sewerage, while the destruction of dwellings left more than 500,000 people homeless.

Aiming to further understand the effect of this event on children, the present study assessed exposure to traumatic events and posttraumatic symptoms in children from the Gaza Strip between December 30, 2014, and May 17, 2015. Several studies have reported the effect of exposure to war and political violence on civilian populations in different countries. Most of these studies have centered their attention on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and associated disorders, such as anxiety or depression. The variability observed across the different studies on prevalence of PTSD and depression among victims of conflicts is very large and is influenced by numerous factors, such as reported torture, number & cumulative exposure to potentially traumatic events, time since conflict, residency status, and assessed level of political terror.

Psychological damage could appear not only in the short and midterm but also in the long term. Data showed that the number of conflict-related traumatic experiences correlates positively with prevalence of mental, behavioral & emotional problems;

The whole Palestine region, and the Gaza Strip in particular, have undergone persistent conflict for decades, implying repetitive exposure to violence and war & clearly affecting the psychological state and health of the population, and the quality of their life, adding urgency to the need to understand and address the implications of war-related trauma among this population. Recently, several studies have noted the psychopathological consequences of war in the Gaza Strip among adult women, adolescents, and preschool children and have assessed the memories of traumatic events among adults. A study with Palestinian children between 7 and 12 years old, found that 40.6% of the children showed moderate to severe PTSD.

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