Palestine: Confronting violence with psychosocial support

By Mariam Qabas

Amira* is a 63 year old woman who lives in Haska, Hebron Governorate in the West Bank.

This is one of the villages most affected by the intense search operation carried out by the Israeli army after the three Israeli teenagers went missing from Hebron on 12 June 2014. The Israeli forces spent 20 days. During that time, the furniture of dozens of houses was destroyed, land was ravaged, and wells were dried, all justified by the search for the missing teenagers.

Amira´s house was searched by the Israeli forces. “On 25 June, the Israeli forces broke into the house without prior warning. I was sleeping in my bed when I heard noises outside. I opened the window only to see a large number of Israeli forces. They entered the house by breaking the door and forced us out. They did not even allow us to wake up my 10-year-old son. They shook him violently in his bed to wake him up and moved him from his room. He was terrified. My two daughters were veiled and prepared to leave their room. The Israeli forces turned the furniture of the rooms upside down, poured goods like rice and sugar on the floor and destroyed the contents of the kitchen. The whole family was terrified and anxious. The soldiers kept coming to my house three times a day, during the day and night. I started leaving the door of the house open fearing they would blow it up.

An MSF psychosocial worker visited me on 26 June, one day after the first raid. She introduced me to the organization she worked for, talked about the emergency intervention that was being carried out by them in the area to assist the affected families and explained to me that all the symptoms of anxiety, insecurity and fear were natural after the incident. She told me ways in which my family and I could deal with them. She only visited me once, but in that one visit she was so supportive and helped me to understand that my reactions were normal and I was not going crazy. In the coming days, I felt fear and anxiety again, but I knew then that it would go away when the soldiers left. My son has started going back to school and I feel safe and in control now. I am grateful for that one visit which helped me and my family deal with the shocking and violent time we were going through.” 


 *The name has been changed to protect the privacy of the patient.