Dear EU Ambassador,
The EU is to be commended for the mandate that it has undertaken to help civilians whose lives have been affected by the recent Gaza war. EU member states remain well aware of the suffering and economic challenges that exist on the Palestinian side of the Gaza conflict.
The EU remains the most significant financial donor to the Palestinian civilians affected by the war.
In 2008 alone, the EU provided almost 500 million Euros for the health and welfare services to the Palestinian population in Gaza.Yet on the other side of the Gaza war, EU humanitarian aid workers may not be aware of the devastating toll that the Gaza war has taken on the lives of thousands of Israeli civilians who have endured eight years of daily rocket explosions and siren warnings.
Writing from the perspective of an NGO in Sderot where I have worked and lived for the past 2 years, I have witnessed and written about countless homes destroyed, children maimed, and families torn apart by the impact of these lethal attacks.
This is a reality where bomb shelters, which dot the entire city, are used almost daily. Life in Sderot is measured by 15 seconds–the time one has to race to bomb shelter when the siren goes off to warn of impending rockets. Arecent study found that more than 80% of Sderot children suffer from PTSD symptoms-post traumatic stress disorder. The long term psychological damage inflicted by the constant rocket fire on both adults and children alike has not yet been fully comprehended or addressed.
Given the mandate of the EU to help civilians in the Gaza war zone rebuild their lives, the time has come for the EU to help fund agencies in Sderot that seek to strengthen the mental heath and social functionality of ordinary Sderot civilians who need psychological aid in order to continue life under rocket terror. Two appropriate services come to mind:
1) THE SDEROT MENTAL HEALTH CENTER
Although Sderot has no medical center (residents who are wounded by rockets must be transferred to the Barzeli hospital in Ashkelon located 20 min. away) a Sderot Mental Health Center, under the auspices of Barzeli hospital does exist, and is run by Dr. Adrianna Katz. The Mental Health Center has become a vital service for the Sderot community, providing psychological treatment to those suffering from PTSD and those who enter shock after experiencing a rocket explosion. The center has only four full time workers to help provide mental health services to almost 5,000 people in Sderot who have been diagnosed with severe mental health stress that has resulted from the anxiety of life under rocket attacks.
The Sderot Mental Health Center needs immediate financial aid to ad staff and to service such a large community of patients.
2) THE SDEROT COMMUNITY THEATER THERAPY PROGRAM
Providing psychological therapy for Sderot high school students by the avenue of the arts and theater, Sderot Community Theater Therapy reaches out to young people in Sderot to help them express their fears and anxieties of life under rocket fire. The high school students creatively produce dramatic presentations, under the guidance of a theater director and psychologist.
With the understanding that the EU will address the humanitarian needs of all sides of a war zone, it would be a welcome gesture if the EU would help provide funds to the mental health services of Sderot and the Western Negev. Such financial assistance is vital to the restoration of normal life for future generations of southern Israelis.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Anav Silverman, Sderot Information Correspondent
Great letter. Very smart move,I think every organisation in Israel should write a similar letter to the European Union. This letter should be advertised in all newspapers, between l friends and co workers etc( which I will do right now) and ask them to write similar letters. This is one easiy way to generate ideas tor people and hopefully someone wil take it a few steps further like the British embasadoe.