Unending Conflict and 35 Years of Occupation Take Psychological Toll on Exhausted Palestinian Population
Interview by Between The Lines' Scott Harris
Israel's recent military offensive into major Palestinian cities in the West Bank were launched, Ariel Sharon's government said, to destroy the infrastructure of terrorism. But the siege of Yasir Arafat's headquarters, the destruction of the Jenin refugee camp and other Israeli strikes appear to have had little lasting effect on preventing a return of deadly suicide bombings in Israel.
Since Israeli troops withdrew from Palestinian cities and towns in early May, there have been five suicide bombings, the latest being an attack on an outdoor café in Petah Tikva which killed a baby girl and her grandmother and wounded 40 others. Al Aksa Martyrs brigade, a militant Palestinian group linked to Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the bombing, stating it was in retaliation for the Israeli assassination of three of their leaders.
While the violence and insecurity suffered by Israeli citizens during the last 19 months of escalating conflict has been widely reported in the U.S. press, rarely covered is the psychological impact of the daily indignities and bloodshed endured by the Palestinian civilian population under occupation now for 35 years. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Dr. Elia Awwad, director of Mental Health Services in the Palestinian territories with the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Dr. Awwad, reached by phone at his home near Bethlehem, discusses the challenges he and his colleagues face in dealing with unrelenting conflict and trauma experienced by an exhausted Palestinian civilian population(A RealAudio Version of this interview may be found at http://www.btlonline.org
Visit the Palestinian Red Crescent Society Web site at www.palestinercs.org http://www.wpkn.org/wpkn/news/btl060702.html
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