No less than 63 percent of children in the southern Israeli town of Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress, mostly due to the intense rounds of violence that have occurred between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Tuesday.
The figures were compiled in a new study by Professor Mooli Lahad, who specializes in psychotrauma.
In photo: Children at play collecting Qassam rocket shrapnel, photo archive: Noam Bedein, Sderot Media Center
And as summer vacation approached in Israel this week, the children of Sderot and other communities surrounding Gaza related memories of last summer’s violent conflict with Gazan terrorists to Channel 2.
“Summer is nearing again, the big vacation, and immediately we think there’s going to be another round [of violence] on the way, with small explosions and attacks here and there,” Shai-Li Wastland, 16, from Nir Oz told Channel 2.
Wastland filmed herself last year running to reach fortified bomb shelters within a matter of seconds before mortar shells exploded in the vicinity.
“It was very frightening to film it,” she recalled. “And what’s more to think that I did it and showed these moments to other people to share this difficult experience with them.”
“I’m afraid that there will be another code-red alert, and I’ll be in an unprotected space,” said 11-year-old Alon Kadosh of Sderot. “I’m afraid I won’t be near a shelter.”
Eleven-year-old Hadar Malka said she still jumps at “every little sound, even passing cars remind me a bit of the code-red [siren], and I begin to get stressed out.”
Omri Dinor, 12, said she gets most frightened at night.
“Truthfully, I have a lot of nightmares,” she said. “When it happens, I immediately jump up and go to my siblings’ room. When I’m really scared by some intense dream, I know that my siblings’ room is next to the protected shelter and my parents’ room.”
Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip fought a 50-day war last summer in which thousands of rockets were fired at Israeli population centers. While communities further away from the border have as much as a minute and a half to reach bomb shelters, for communities closest to the border, sometimes only a few seconds are available as mortar shells are fired from close range.
A fear-year-old child was killed in one such mortar attack last summer trying to reach a bomb shelter.