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Post trauma in the Gaza Envelop

In 2009, a seminar was held at Sapir College on the consequences of continuous exposure to the trauma of terrorism, among citizens in the settlements of Sderot and Gaza envelop. USA, the concerns are confirmed

The news was published on April 13, 20009 and has been updated somewhat now following the massacre in Otef, 7/10/2023

Post Trauma. Photo 137131154 © Designer491 |
Post Trauma. Photo 137131154 © Designer491 |

Researchers identify Israel as a natural laboratory for studying stress and its consequences in the context of war and terrorism. Exposure to acts of terrorism has been found to have severe consequences on mental health, by creating high levels of symptoms of distress and depression in the general population. Such exposure has also been found to be consistently associated with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. (PTSD) Post-traumatic syndrome or post-traumatic syndrome, is the same syndrome from which the person who was exposed to the life-threatening traumatic event suffers, and includes symptoms from three groups: Intrusiveness) symptoms that can include, among others: flashbacks of the traumatic event that appear in the person, who was exposed or injured, During the day and/or during the night, during normal dreams and/or during the day, and a feeling of distress as a result of exposure to events that remind of the traumatic event), avoidance) such as: refraining from participating in or performing any action that is related to or reminiscent of the traumatic event or another event similar to it , memory problems, attempts to suppress the traumatic event, a feeling of depression and detachment from society, indifference towards the environment, and difficulty in expressing emotions (and hyperarousal) such as: excessive irritability, low stimulation threshold, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, general anxiety, violent behavior towards the environment, etc. (.

The studies following the terrorist events of the Twin Towers on September 11, the terrorist attack in Madrid, and the incident in London, demonstrated that even people who were not exposed to the incident directly, but through the media, exhibit symptoms of various mental disorders including distress, stress and PTSD, but at a lower level than of those who were directly exposed to them.

At the same time, there are few studies that have investigated the issue of prolonged exposure to life-threatening terrorist events among the civilian population. Most of the research in the field has dealt with the consequences of terrorist events or other traumatic events, after they have ended. From this point of view, the events in Sderot and the surrounding Gaza settlements, which last for about 8 years, constitute a "rare and special" opportunity for research, in general, and psychological research in particular, in the field of prolonged exposure and examining its consequences, while it is happening. Recently, a large-scale research project led by Prof. Avi Baser from Sapir Academic College in collaboration with Prof. Beatrice Friel from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Prof. Yuval Neria from Columbia University in New York, USA, which dealt with the psychological consequences of continuous exposure to the trauma of terrorism, was completed Citizens in the settlements of Sderot and the Gaza Strip. In the series of studies, samples of citizens between the ages of 20-60, residents of Sderot and settlements surrounding Gaza within the range of the fall of the Qassams (kibbutzim and moshavim) who have lived in the settlement for at least the last 10 years, were compared with a sample of a comparison group from a remote area that was not previously exposed to terrorist incidents and is identical to the study group in all settlement characteristics (small town, kibbutzim and moshavim) and socio-demographers.

The findings of the series of studies show that the prolonged exposure of almost 8 years to life-threatening terrorist events has significant consequences for the mental health of the exposed residents. Among other things, it was found that compared to the indirect exposure group, residents of Sderot and the Gaza Strip reveal high and significant levels of all the symptoms of the post-traumatic syndrome (intrusiveness, avoidance, and hyperarousal) and that 27% of the sample of residents of Sderot and the Gaza Strip compared to only 3% of the comparison group sample reveal levels In addition, the studies demonstrate high and significant levels of mental distress among the study sample, which include high levels of general anxiety symptoms, general agitation, depression, hostility, anger, and various psychosomatic symptoms.

Examining the personal psychological factors involved in the development of these negative mental symptoms, reveals that personality factors related to the trait of dependency are a significant and decisive factor in explaining the vulnerability in the situation of exposure to continuous trauma in the settlements of Sderot and Gaza.

Prof. Avi Baser, expert psychologist, researcher in the field of personality, faculty member in the Department of Human Resource Management, Sapir Academic College
Prof. Avi Baser, expert psychologist, researcher in the field of personality, faculty member in the Department of Human Resource Management, Sapir Academic College

It was found that people with high levels of dependency (with a need for interpersonal relationships and manifestations of difficulty in conditions of abandonment) are the ones who report the highest levels of all negative mental symptoms. It was also found that compared to a sample that was not directly exposed to the terrorist events, in the settlements of Sderot and the Gaza Strip the respondents reported significantly lower levels of perceived social support available to them (both from family, friends, and significant others) as well as significantly lower levels of their life satisfaction. They also demonstrated significantly higher levels of a tendency to cope with the situation using ineffective psychological coping strategies Such as: rumination (the tendency to reflect negatively), catastrophizing (the tendency to intensify the negativity of the event), and blaming the other.

The study demonstrated that the vulnerability of residents of Sderot and the Gaza Strip who are prone to dependency, distress symptoms and PTSD is related to experiences of a lack of social support, a tendency to ineffective psychological coping, and a tendency to increase the psychological experience of stress. It is evident that prolonged exposure harms the coping resources and depletes them and in addition produces a "pressure cooker" effect, in which the support factors such as family and friends are in the same situation and find it difficult to evacuate and support people with such a personal need that even intensifies in stressful and especially traumatic and prolonged situations.

Additional findings demonstrated that personality characteristics related to issues of insecurity in attachment, especially anxiety that arises in contexts of a need for connection and support, constitute a vulnerability to the experience of exposure to the trauma of terrorism in a continuous manner and is accompanied by harm at the community level. These experience high levels of stress and multiple psychological symptoms.
Finally, the study also examined differences between the Sderot and Gaza Strip sample and the comparison sample) of the indirect exposure (in negative discriminatory attitudes towards the enemy) such as hatred, contempt, loathing, hostility, superiority, and rejection, towards the Qassam launchers. (while the residents of Sderot and the Gaza Strip, as mentioned, show significantly high levels of all the factors of vulnerability: all the negative mental symptoms and ineffective psychological coping methods and significantly low levels of resilience factors) such as support and life satisfaction), no differences were found in the negative attitudes towards the enemy between the samples .

It seems that even those who were not directly exposed to the event show a "social desire" and "love to hate" the enemy. However, only in the Sderot and Gaza Strip sample were these negative attitudes associated with all the negative mental symptoms. Despite the identification with the "hatred of the enemy" it is not a "shared fate", since the enemy has negative consequences on the mental health of those who are exposed to his direct threat and influence on their fate. It is important to note that the fact that the residents of Sderot and the Gaza Strip report a low level of life satisfaction is not at all related to the development of discriminatory negative attitudes towards the enemy. This is probably a direct result of the severity of the mental symptoms associated with the traumatic events and not of "general frustration". In general, the findings of the studies in this project demonstrate the cumulative negative consequences as a result of prolonged exposure to terrorist events both in intrapersonal and interpersonal aspects, and have important implications both theoretically in the field of social-personality research and in terms of planning and implementing interventions in the individual clinical therapeutic field and in the systemic field communal.

A number of articles reporting on the findings of the project have long been in various stages of publication in leading scientific journals in the field of psychology. These days, some of them have been accepted for publication in important and leading journals in the field, such as the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

In the last few days, another research project was completed that examined and followed students in the first year of their studies at Sapir Academic College who were forced to evacuate the college due to Operation Cast Lead. The study followed students who returned to their homes which were supposed to be a safe place and found themselves in a stressful and threatening situation as a result of the expansion of the shooting range. Measurements during the war and two months after the ceasefire demonstrate the importance of the intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions in the construction of perceptions and reactions to traumatic events and the long-term consequences at the level of mental health. The research findings were accepted for publication in the APA journal:
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

This is an excellent opportunity to thank the residents of Sderot and the settlements around Gaza and the residents of Eilat and the Arava Road settlements, who took part and participated in the study voluntarily. Also, many thanks to the students from the guided research, from the human resource management department at Sapir and those from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Eilat campus, who served as research assistants and assisted in data collection.

1. Besser, A., & Priel, B. (in press). Personality vulnerability, low social support, and maladaptive cognitive emotion regulation under ongoing exposure to terrorist attacks. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

2. Besser, A., Neria, Y., & Haynes, M. (under review) Adult attachment, perceived stress, and PTSD among civilians continuously exposed to terrorism in southern Israel. Personality and Individual Differences.

3. Besser, A., Neria, Y. (in press). PTSD symptoms, satisfaction with life and prejudicial attitudes towards the adversary among Israelis exposed to ongoing terrorist attacks. Journal of Traumatic Stress.

4. Besser, A., & Neria, Y. (in press). When home isn't a safe haven: Insecure attachment, perceived social support, and PTSD symptoms among Israeli evacuees from a battlefront still under threat. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

16 תגובות

  1. No matter what... it is very important to hold conferences, talk about the issue and expose it to the public and the media - but is this the solution? People will remain with anxieties, depressions and traumas forever as long as the situation in Israel is so dangerous and fragile, when there are security incidents that happen or may happen at any moment, it's frustrating just to think about it.

  2. Friends, maybe it's time we all take a deep breath.

    did we take magnificent.

    I would like to emphasize an important point: the IDF did not violate international law in Operation Cast Lead, and IDF soldiers in general are not defined as war criminals. International law allows attacking civilian installations, if they cover or hide a hostile force. Hamas used to launch Qassams on a daily basis from the homes of Gaza residents. Because of this, and in accordance with international law, the IDF had full permission to act against Hamas even in an area with civilians. The European powers also took advantage of the same law in the Kosovo war - and to this day none of them have been charged with war crimes.

    More information can be found in the article dealing with international law and Operation Cast Lead.

    Happy holiday,



    my new blog - Another science

  3. Wondering,
    In addition - in the context of what you said "it would have been better to have more casualties on our side, than to turn out to be war criminals" only strengthens my opinion about you that it is more important to you how other people see you than who you really are. If you are prepared for more casualties in war, it doesn't really matter which side, just so you won't be portrayed in a negative light, shows your personality. Even if you are not aware of it…

  4. Wondering,
    Either you are an Arab with Palestinian tendencies, or you are a Palestinian, or worse - a person who thinks it is more important to present himself as having a supreme ideology and morals who does not care who he hurts in order to appear more "good" to the world, even though he is actually selfish and he himself will not sacrifice himself or risk Nothing by himself.

    If you really believe that there should have been more dead soldiers, not only do you not deserve to express yourself on the site but also to be a citizen of the country. I hope that one day burglars will come to your house, with their family - so that they will learn the "secrets of the trade" and want to murder your family and then you will refrain from protecting your family so as not to accidentally harm the innocents who are their family. Maybe then you will understand...

    There was never any desire to kill or harm the civilian population at all. On the contrary, I think there has never been an army that not only had to face the problems that our troops had to face, but also behaved in such a dignified manner (don't give an example of an idiot soldier who stepped out of line), especially not to harm the population was his policy.

  5. The truth is, it would have been better to have more losses on our side, than to turn out to be war criminals. I don't see how the lives of soldiers are more important than the lives of the civilian population, even if it belongs to the "enemy". Even more than that, one of the results of fighting is the killing of soldiers due to the fact that they are there for professional reasons (and let's assume for a moment the fact that in our country they are forced laborers), but the civilians on the other hand are people who happened to be on the battlefield, therefore they deserve more vilification than the fighters of both sides , and the two have to commit to protecting them - and even if Hamas is not interested in our citizens or even theirs, this does not give us permission to kill them as we please.

  6. Wondering,
    You're right, so it's lucky that we didn't declare the civilian population an enemy and we don't try to rob them when aid reaches them...
    We are delivering financial and medical aid while their own "people" are robbing them.

    And you didn't answer my question while I answered yours. Would you prefer to "balance" the amount of casualties on our side? Is it enough to make you and others feel better about themselves? To see families in their own country being murdered? Is that "all" it takes to make you feel more altruistic and remove any false guilt you've developed for yourself?

  7. You know Oren, there are many ways to "protect yourself"... and one of them is not to declare the civilian population as an enemy, and not to imprison them in a cage without the possibility of words or even receiving basic medical help...

  8. Wondering,
    Is it our fault that we have a stronger and more advanced army? Is it only because of this "unfortunate" fact that we should allow terrorism to be done to us?

    Or are you sorry that because of our "unfair" balance of power when we finally defended ourselves there weren't more casualties on our side to "balance" the results and that you and others like you would feel less bad about themselves and less guilty?

  9. We have already seen in the previous holocaust that there were, including Jews, who claimed that the victim was guilty.
    The confused way you present reality is noteworthy. Nothing will stop you. After all, you saw that if we gave them half a year to organize, then these were no longer pipes but standard grades.
    It's just a question of ability.
    It was necessary to eliminate their desire to riot again. It's a shame they didn't finish it. Even so, their false propaganda succeeded in turning enemy soldiers into poor boys walking on the way to school.

  10. Yes indeed, they really deserve it. If they engage in terrorism against the civilian population, then we are allowed too. That is, how can an army armed with high-tech guns and tanks worth millions of dollars fight a mob armed with rockets from pipes, in any other way than killing innocent civilians, women, children, and indiscriminately killing everything that moves with the help of laser-guided missiles.
    After all, how can we allow our children, (whom we recruited as forced laborers to serve as cannon fodder), to risk themselves and fight like a professional army that, among other things, must take on the risk of its soldiers? It doesn't make sense for our trained army to come face to face with armed men with weapons smuggled through tunnels, and risk it to save some Palestinian child whose blood is worth nothing... I still haven't been able to understand how they didn't bring all of Gaza to hell with everyone who lives there. This is how we will destroy Hamas for sure, and we will no longer join in putting our children there to endanger themselves, and the poor Gaza Strip will not absorb any more pipes (this is of course after our elite commando forces release Gilad Shalit from there...).

  11. There is nothing in the world that can justify shooting civilians for eight years. They really deserved everything they got.
    If they understood that they cannot conquer the entire State of Israel and expel the Jews under any circumstances, and also stop trying to make us a holocaust gradually (buses, exploding boats, Qassams), then surely we would have nothing to look for from them. The fact that we left and they continue, means they don't want freedom in Gaza, they want everything they call Palestine.
    They took advantage of every freedom given to them to harm - the border guards (who are now crying for their absence), doctors, even left-wing activists. They deliberately hide among the civilian population so that it will be harmed and they will have something to cry about to their friends in the world and unfortunately also in Israel.
    Eight years of continuous violation of sovereignty requires a response, otherwise it won't even last eighty years.

  12. What about the post-trauma, of children who sat for days on end in destroyed houses next to the bodies of their parents, without being given access by rescue forces for a long time...? And what about the people who were sitting at home when Kenny Tank peeked into their window, isn't that post-trauma? And after he destroyed your house with half of the family inside...?

    But leave, only we suffer, and they deserve it, anyway.

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