A leading international expert on the psychological struggles facing children living in conflict and war zones recently visited southern Israel and concluded that Israeli children residing within range of the Gaza Strip face an unhealthy upbringing.
Voices in the international community like to complain about the siege Israel has allegedly imposed upon Gaza. But Eliasz Gocal-Czerwinski, advisor to the secretary-general of the International Human Rights Commission on child affairs, described the living conditions for children in southern Israel as very much a kind of emotional siege.
“From my point of view as a clinical psychologist, [I am] concerned about the needs of youth and their development, [which] you achieve not through economics, but through…having a stable and safe environment,” Gocal-Czerwinski told Doron Keider of Cry for Zion.
“As you can see, this isn’t safe, not for the Palestinians and especially not for the Israeli children,” the expert continued, as he visited a facility storing the remains of hundreds of rockets fired at southern Israel over the summer.
Gocal-Czerwinski lamented that children living in the southern town of Sderot and surrounding community have come “to accept a world where every playground must have a bomb shelter. This does not provide safety and comfort” of the type children need for a healthy upbringing.
Keider informed his guest that over 90 percent of children living in Sderot today suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If the situation continues like this, Gocal-Czerwinski worries that the children of southern Israel will carry the emotional trauma all their lives. “You look at people 40–50 years old [who were raised in such situations], and the constant fear for their lives, the instability becomes a part of their personality,” he noted.