‘Resilience is the key to make people feel safe’: Trauma experts empower Negev communities

The event served as a platform for discussing the pressing need to strengthen resilience and address trauma within the region.

By Sveta Listratov, TPS

In response to unprecedented trauma caused by the October 7 attacks and war with Hamas, more than 30 Israeli trauma organizations gathered in a rehabilitation village Adi Negev to grapple with how to coordinate their efforts.

“October 7th happened everywhere in the country, in very different ways,” Tali Levanon, CEO at Israel Trauma Coalition told The Press Service of Israel.

“Nothing compares to what happened that day. I haven’t seen a situation like this happening anywhere in the world.”

In a collaborative effort to bolster community resilience in the Western Negev region, the Jewish National Fund USA (JNF-USA), the Israel Coalition for Trauma, and the village and medical center for rehabilitation “Adi Negev-Nachlat Eran” convened a gathering to meet representatives from numerous organizations and communities in the area.

“It is our goal to help those residents who are ready to go back to their communities after the evacuation, to make it easier for them,” Tali Tzur, chief of staff of Jewish National Fund USA in Israel explained to TPS-IL.

“It was clear to everyone that resilience is the key element of making people feel safe while living in this area. You have to prepare them for the moment of a siren or a falling rocket not to get thrown back to the attack of October 7th and to fall apart.”

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Attended by managers and representatives from regional councils and authorities in the Western Negev, along with partners such as the Western Negev Rehabilitation System of the Jewish Agency, Sapir College, and the National Civil Service Authority, the event served as a platform for discussing the pressing need to strengthen resilience and address trauma within the region.

In the discussions held within the working groups, key topics included the necessity for specialized training and support for caregivers, who may also require resilience-building treatments themselves.

Another aspect highlighted was the occurrence of trauma that manifests physically, often without the individual recognizing the underlying cause of their distress.

The most repeated concern voiced was the shortage of personnel in the professional domain, particularly within the Arabic-speaking sector.

“The shortage of manpower in this field is a well-known issue, and within the Arab sector, it’s particularly noticeable,” Atef Khatip from a resilience center for the Bedouin population in Beer-Sheva told TPS-IL.

“The awareness of the necessity for resilience within Bedouin society has long been acknowledged, but what’s lacking is the capacity to address it effectively, stuck with insufficient budgets and personnel.”

Central to the discussions were the various trauma treatments available to residents, with a focus on leveraging “Adi Negev,” a rehabilitation village adjacent to Ofakim, as a central service provider for the region.

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“We are already helping those who are living touched with disability, so we have all the infrastructure in the village,” Elie Klein, director of development for the US and Canada for Adi Negev- Nachalat Eran explained to TPS-IL.

“And we realized that the need right now is to coordinate the resilience centers that already exist, to present them with the specific requests from the residents that need to be addressed, find the right solutions for them, and to move things forward appropriately.”

While the attention was directed towards the residents of the Negev, the ongoing challenges faced by residents of the northern border remained unresolved.

“We are trying to create responses that are tailor-made to the reality in the North of Israel as well, but the reality is still so vague and unstable and we still don’t know what we are going to face there,” Levanon said.

Around 250,000 Israelis from communities near the Gaza and Lebanese borders have been displaced from their homes since October 7, living in subsidized hotels or staying with relatives.

Residents of Gaza-border area communities are slowly returning to their homes.

Hezbollah leaders have suggested that they will continue to fire rockets to prevent thousands of residents of northern Israel from returning to their homes.

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Israeli officials have been calling for Hezbollah to be disarmed and removed from Southern Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

At least 1,200 people were killed and 240 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Around 30 of the remaining 133 hostages are believed dead.

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