“We’re Inside a Shroud”

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“Thank God we survived physically. But psychologically we are inside a shroud.” These were the words from one of our Gaza colleagues this morning.

As of this writing, the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza is holding up. Life is returning to normal, such as it is. People are back at the markets and on the beach. Crossings with Gaza are opened up – albeit in a limited way. Fuel is getting in again and some patients are being allowed to leave for critical healthcare in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Egypt. Many wanted to get out during the height of the bombardment, but could not.

Anera’s staff in Gaza are all safe. Though they weren’t greatly affected in a direct way by this recent spate of violence, they were close to bombings and could see and hear them. Gaza is a small place, so anyone living there sees and hears many of the explosions with their own eyes. Many of our staff there wanted to get out during the height of the bombardment to try and help their fellow Palestinians. Today, though, I have asked them to stay home and regroup in the wake of this latest tragedy.

The bombings that happened over the past few days were targeted. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t horrific. We all know that this is not the first time such things have happened. And, sadly, will not be the last. Since 2007, there have been four major bombing campaigns. Each ratchets up the fear and adds to the state of chronic, collective trauma.

During the weekend, one of our staff in Gaza sent us this message via our WhatsApp group chat: “As a Gazan, l have to say that we feel that we mean nothing to any politician. Watching death, living around it, and waiting for your turn to die. This is life in Gaza at this time.”

Anera’s Gaza team is talking to our local partners and other stakeholders. We’re gathering information on immediate and longer term needs that have arisen out of this latest bombardment. While several hundreds of families were directly impacted, with lives and homes lost, there are also nearby houses and families who are affected.

Anera will be doing as much as we can to help families in the neighborhood where the bombings happened, delivering things like food, hygiene items, clothing and medicines. Next week, we will also be hosting psychosocial camps for young children through our networks of preschools. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of these kinds of traumatic events, and they need extra help during their most important developmental years.

Once again our Gaza brothers and sisters are emerging from their homes to face another round of rebuilding both infrastructure and hope for the future. Let’s stay with them in mind and spirit, and offer whatever help we can to carry them through this. They deserve nothing less.



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