Gaza rockets take toll: Help center reports sharp rise in trauma victims

Following the latest barrage of rockets from Gaza, 1,000 new requests for psychological help from trauma victims have been filed.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The recurring rounds of rocket and balloon arson attacks launched by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip into Israel are taking a significant psychological toll on southern residents, according to a report by Natal, the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, published in Yediot Aharonot on Sunday.

Natal provides multidisciplinary treatment and support to direct and indirect victims of trauma due to terror and war in Israel.

During last weekend’s barrage of 690 rockets launched by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on May 4-6, approximately 1,000 people called Natal’s hotline for assistance.

In 2018, the nonprofit organization registered a leap of 40% over the previous year in people from the region calling their hotline, with the surge beginning after Hamas began its violent “March of Return” protests last March as well as launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory.

Out of the 4,000 calls Natal received last year from people dealing with symptoms of trauma all over the country, fully 25% came from parents of traumatized youth in the South who required expert assistance in dealing with apparent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

It is assumed the leap in numbers in May is set to rise again as the year progresses, considering the surge in rocket attacks, the ongoing border violence, and the arson attacks that have resumed after the wet winter. PIJ has even threatened war if Israel does not ease its restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

Natal’s research has shown that 25% of those exposed to a terror incident or attack in war suffer from PTSD, 15 percent have added anxiety symptoms, and nine percent suffer from clinical depression. The organization has helped more than 300,000 soldiers and civilians since its establishment in 1998.