Sunday, December 17, 2006

War-Weary Kids & Snipers in Diapers

It doesn’t take an air strike, or a telephoned warning that Israeli bombers are on the way, to terrify the war-weary children of Gaza, Jan McGirk reports in the London Independent. (click above to read entire piece.) Heightened surveillance is enough to cause nightmares.

Lasers glow red in the night like the eyes of wild beasts. An enemy spy drone, like a pale fish-shaped balloon, hovers high overhead to eavesdrop and snap photos. Heaps of fresh rubble cast weird shadows. And sonic booms – louder than a crack of thunder – trigger dread whenever F-16 fighter jets fly low.

In Gaza’s grim conditions, mothers find it hard to tell if their offspring are crying out of fright, pain or misery. But when normally bickering brats fall silent, it’s the first sign of mental scars from being constantly scared...

No sane child can remain unaffected by the mayhem of Gaza Strip. Playmates frequently are killed or maimed: at last count, Israeli guns had slain 89 Gazan children and wounded another 343 since mid- June, about one quarter of the total casualties of the back to back Israeli offensives...Factional feuds and inter-clan battles fell dozens more Palestinians in the crossfire. Three young sons of Baha Baalusha, a senior intelligence officer loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, were gunned down along with their driver during the morning school run on Monday, Dec 11th. The brothers were aged six, seven and nine. Four other classmates were sprayed by bullets and wounded....

“Children between age six and 12 are the most vulnerable to phobias,” explains Maha el Shawwa, who coordinates all Welfare Association programmes in Gaza. “Littler ones just cling to their mothers or grandmothers, but school-age children start wetting their beds or fearing the dark. They feel ashamed and get teased mercilessly by neighbours and siblings. We try to promote awareness of these simple problems, so the mother won’t place the wet mattress in the sun to dry where everyone can see it.”

In Beit Hanoun, a northern Gaza town, householders discovered that Israeli snipers who stay alert at the trigger all night must wear disposable diapers because they are forbidden to leave their posts. The snipers leave the used ones behind – sealed plastic packets of contempt. Schoolboys who soil themselves at night because they fear walking down a dark hallway often get mocked by their peers as IDF goons with smelly pants. It’s a slow battle for them to regain confidence.

Little Omar, a two year old who witnessed Israeli troops demolishing his father’s orange groves and converting his house to a barracks, mounts a barren hill every morning and simply screams at the horizon.

While most older children attempt to swallow such rage, others feel the need to strike out.

Little Omar, attempting to play in his father's ruined orange grove, heads away from his hill.

It is interesting to note that in Sderot, where hundreds of Qassam rockets have landed, Israeli children suffer many of the same traumatic stress symptoms. Very few have taken up psychosocial services, though, because there seems to be a stigma attached to admitting mental frailty.
Many of the young residents require play therapy in the Russian language, not Hebrew.

4 comments:

Dread Heiferling said...

So is this what we consider pampering the Palestinians...with used diapers?? Yuck. Am told that the US snipers also wear pampers. This is the reality of soldiering in the 21st century.
Peace Now, folks. War is Shit.

Anonymous said...

This story is way too long. Izzybee we like you for your brevity.

Izzy Bee said...

point taken, anon. Have left in a link for those who want to see the whole thing and abridged the file on my page

balagan babe said...

Maybe the new ceasefire between feuding factions will help the kids sleep more soundly. Besides the Israel-Palestinian truce in Gaza, and a Hamas-Fatah truce, the criminals and radicals need to hang up their weapons. ANyone see this happening soon?