Living the latest round of Israeli military curfew

We just completed day nine of living the latest round of Israeli military curfew. Everyone is getting edgy and uptight. Our cities, economy, projects, and lives are being destroyed as we helplessly watch from our front windows.

Our unwanted IDF neighbors are still in the house across the street. Turns out they have taken over 2 floors of the 3-storey home, not one. We only found that out last night when they had the lights on. There is a constant coming and going of Israeli tanks, armored personnel carriers and jeeps. It is hot these days and we have to keep the windows of our home open, but the smell of diesel from these heavy machineries has given us headaches. One tank leaves and another tank comes rolling in its place. The soldiers pull out their duffle bags, sleeping bags, and boxes of food and head to their newly acquired home. I wonder if Um Khaled, the real owner, has been informed yet, while on vacation, that her house is being raped.

Apart from the noise and laughter coming from the occupied home, it has been quiet. One tank driver did see me staring at him and thought it would be cute to stare me down while telling his tank friends to watch. Of course, I won. He should have known better. I’m home no where to go, unlike him. Oh yes, also this morning Nancy from a Chicago radio program tried to come to interview me but the the Israeli soldier standing guard did not allow her to get out of the armored press car she came in. She called me and said, I see you in the porch but they won’t let me enter. So I guess we will try again tomorrow. Ah, and today a new development. They brought a blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian prisoner to the house. After about 1 hour he came out and entered an ambulance. Did not look like he was injured but we’re not for sure. Maybe he was interrogated. Other than that it was eventless.

The only immediate damage is to our street and sidewalks and hopefully these soldier’s conscious’ as they look out of the side of their eye and see my 8 year old and 2 year old glued to the window - now fully enjoying the GI-Joe (or is that GI-Shlomo) Show outside.

It’s now 11:40pm here and all are asleep. The girls were beat after their Grandfather played for 3 hours with them. The danced on the porch so the soliders could see and hear, they played soccer in the house, they played hide and seek, they called Grandma in Ohio to tell her they were ok, all in all, they were satisfied today. I was not after reading the report that was issued about the affect of this mess on kids (see below).

Well, I must stay up tonight until 12:40am to be interviewed on a radio show in Australia - there it will be 7:40am. Maybe if one of these soldiers get in the Concord they can make it to Australia in time to stop the host from getting to work. Then again, that would leave my street loose and only God knows how dangerous that could be, you know, all those kids taking their bicycles back into the street and all.

Study: high trauma rate among Palestinian, settlers’ children
By The Associated Press

A psychological study of 1,300 children shows that 70 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and 30 percent of children in Jewish settlements are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of months of bloodshed.

Children taking part in the study said they suffered from nightmares, eating disorders, anxiety and a sense of loss - all symptoms of the disorder, according to Tamar Lavi, a psychologist who conducted the research last summer as part of her thesis for Tel Aviv University’s Adler Center.

“We knew from books that exposure (to violence) can lead to a lot of things, but we also knew that different exposure leads to different results,” Lavi said Tuesday.

Israeli and Palestinian children have been exposed to steady suicide bombings, missile strikes and shootings since the current round of violence erupted in September 2000. Some children in Lavi’s study said they had seen attacks, been injured and lost relatives. Some Palestinian children had been arrested.

Lavi found that in the West Bank, Palestinian children had been exposed to an average of 10 incidents of violence between September 2000 to July 2001, while Israeli children living in the Gush Katif bloc of settlements in the Gaza Strip had been exposed to an average of 11 instances of bloodshed. She did not study Palestinians in Gaza.

Hassan Ziadah, a psychologist at the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, said Lavi’s findings were similar to a study done by his center that found 90 percent of Palestinian children who saw the first uprising from 1987 to 1993 also showed symptoms of post- traumatic stress.

Ziadah said mental health professionals in Gaza have been debating whether the increase in the number of Palestinians willing to carry out suicide bombings is related to post-traumatic stress, which could be “a factor involved in the decision to become a martyr,” the term Palestinians use for those killed in clashes with Israelis, as well as suicide bombers. No clear conclusion has been drawn.

“In the (next) generation we will suffer from this trauma … we have to prepare ourselves to deal with the consequences, the psychological and social consequences,” Ziadah said.

A generation of children with chronic psychological problems can have a destabilizing effect on a society, he said.

The children interviewed in Ziadah’s study suffered from bed-wetting, nightmares, clinging, loss of appetite, decrease in academic performance, and rebellious behavior.

In therapy, children drew soldiers, airplanes, checkpoints, tanks and guns, Ziadah said.

Like Ziadah, Lavi fears the current level of tension could contribute to a cycle of violence that will be even more difficult to break.

“People who make decisions that lead to violence and conflict have to realize that these things don’t just pass by children,” Lavi said. “The children here are paying a very, very high price.”