The hostilities between Hamas and the Israeli military during the period of November 14 - 21, 2012 were harmful to the well-being of children and women. To better guide the humanitarian response in support of affected children, UNICEF coordinated a rapid psychosocial assessment on the impact of the situation on children. The assessment, carried out four days after declaration of the ceasefire, is a rapid evaluation of the situation of children in the most affected areas in Gaza. It does not represent the overall situation of children in Gaza.
The assessment showed that children living in all five Gaza governorates have been affected. It showed that children in north Gaza and Gaza City governorates were more affected compared to localities in the other governorates. The assessment also showed that there was no difference in the level of violence that girls and boys were exposed to, but the genders reacted differently. Boys showed more emotional symptoms, such as increased level of fear, and girls displayed more physical symptoms, such as changes in eating patterns and crying. Older children were proportionally more affected than younger ones.
One key dimension of children’s exposure to violence is witnessing destruction or damage, such as to the child’s home or neighbors’ homes. The assessment revealed the following:
- Children reported a high level of exposure to violence. Of the children surveyed, 83% reported that their homes were damaged or destroyed. Fifty children or 9%, reported that their houses were destroyed during the conflict, and 85% reported damage to their immediate surroundings. One quarter of the sample, 135 children, reported significant damage.
- Children in Gaza City reported the highest levels of destruction, followed in decreasing order by Khan Younis, north Gaza, Rafah and middle Gaza.
- Injuries were reported by 14 per cent of the children, either from a shell or due to bombing of their house. The highest levels of reported child injuries were in north Gaza, followed by Gaza City, Rafah, middle Gaza and Khan Younis.
- One quarter of the children (26%) witnessed up to three violent events. Almost half (46%) witnessed four to five violent events, and 28% witnessed six violent events. Older children reported significantly more experience in witnessing.
Latest report by UNICEF [Impact of Hostilities on Children in Gaza | Rapid Psycho-social Assessment, 2012 (PDF) - UNICEF Dec 2012]: http://www.unicef.org/oPt/UNICEF_oPt_PSS_Rapid_Assessment_2012.pdf