More than 40 years of Israeli military occupation have had a devastating impact on Palestinians in Gaza. Air strikes, artillery shelling, ground invasions, jet flybys and other acts of violence have all led to an epidemic of suffering among Gaza’s most vulnerable inhabitants. The most recent studies indicate that the vast majority of Gaza’s children exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Soon after the Israeli winter assault, a group of scholars at the University of Washington discussed different aspects of the situation in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Dr. Evan Kanter, a UW School of Medicine professor and the current president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, delivered a somber talk describing the mental health situation among Gaza’s population. The numbers he cited described a staggering level of psychological trauma.
Dr. Kanter described studies that revealed 62 percent of Gaza’s inhabitants reported having a family member injured or killed, 67 percent saw injured or dead strangers and 83 percent had witnessed shootings.