Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Palestine / Israel

Children of Gaza: Scarred, Trapped, Vengeful
By Rachel Shields
The Independent, March 14, 2010
[...] Like hundreds of displaced Gazans, Omsyatte's family have spent more than a year living in a tent on a site near their home. Little rebuilding work has been done during this time -- with supplies unable to pass into Gaza because of the ongoing blockade imposed by Israel in 2007 -- and groups of children now pick their way through piles of rubble, kicking footballs around the bombsites which used to be local landmarks. Homelessness is just one of the issues facing the 780,000 Gazan children in the aftermath of the conflict, problems that are explored in a revealing new documentary Dispatches: Children of Gaza, to be screened tomorrow at 8pm on Channel 4. Perhaps the most disturbing of these is the emotional scars borne by children who have survived the conflict; the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme reports that the majority of children show signs of anxiety, depression and behavioural problems. Small boys build toy rockets out of drinks bottles, and talk about the fake guns they are going to buy with their pocket money. While boys the world over are preoccupied with fighting and weapons, this takes on a more sinister significance when the game isn't Cowboys vs Indians, but Jews vs Arabs, and the children's make-believe warfare is chillingly realistic. These games may reflect the children's desire for revenge against their neighbours, of which many speak openly. 'I think we are seeing a growing desire for violence, and it saddens me,' said Jezza Neumann, the Bafta-winning director of the programme. 'If they could get revenge legally, or saw someone saying sorry, then perhaps they could come to terms with it, but there has been no recourse. What you're seeing now may only be the tip of the iceberg.' [...]"

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