19 Dec, 2015
Rafah, Gaza Strip – Ismail Abu Shebab, a shy 11-year-old taking a break from school, opened his mouth to speak – but the overhead roar of Israeli warplanes made his words nearly inaudible. As the aircraft came closer, Abu Shebab grew silent. “I’m ready to talk,” he said after a few moments.
Abu Shebab suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of Israeli bombing during the 2014 Gaza war. “We were on the street, and there was an explosion that destroyed a house. I was hurt, and my brother died,” Abu Shebab explained. Shortly afterwards, he began to suffer from a nervous tic, panic attacks and bed-wetting.
PTSD is nothing new for the children of Gaza. Anyone born there in or before 2008 has experienced three Israeli wars, and a 2014 study published in the Arab Journal of Psychology found that 92 percent of Gaza Palestinians between the ages of 13 and 18 showed symptoms of the disorder.