'Gaza's new generation of children only knows stress, wars and aggression'

© Suhaib Salem
If you keep depriving children from Gaza of everything, eventually some of them will join armed conflict and Israel will have no one to blame but themselves, Belal Dabour, a Palestinian doctor from Gaza, told RT.

The Israeli Air Force launched an airstrike on Hamas bases on Saturday, March 12, in which a 10-year-boy who lived next to one of the targets was killed, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, according to AFP. His six-year-old sister died later of her injuries, local media reported.

RT interviewed Dr. Belal Dabour, who assisted many injured during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, for his take on the situation.

RT: Do you see many children injured by Israeli attacks and how are they affected by the situation?

Belal Dabour: We have had a complete decade of blockade on Gaza. For 10 years people have suffered three major operations and continuous chronic stress… Everyone who was born in 2006 and afterwards, we have a new generation who has only witnessed stress, wars, and aggressions. They have basically never experienced normal life...

You would expect this whole generation that they have an appraisal system that’s geared up to face wars, to face continuous lack of electricity, the stress on their parents, and the lack for their safety, for their parents’ safety. This would reflect on basically everything: how they play, how they see the outside world, how they look at cartoons on TV, how they expect people to act to their childhood, their ideas, their impressions from everything. Certainly, everything is affected by these 10 years. And even me, I am an adult – in 2006, I was 16 years old – and still I feel a lot of my reflexes, how I see the world has changed a lot over the last decade.

RT: Children's brains are more sensitive and therefore more vulnerable. How is their mental state affected by such incidents? Do they tend to join Hamas, for example, to get revenge on their attackers?

BD: Children are the out-product of their environment. Everything that you hear: Why you don’t have electricity to see your favorite cartoons? Because of the siege. And who is conducting the siege? Israel. So, that is block one. Who killed your friend? It is Israel. So, it is another point. And it keeps piling up. Eventually some of those are going to decide to take action themselves without being Hamas or someone else. Hamas is not the main topic here - anyone who would give them the idea, the opportunity to defend themselves, to prove to the world that they matter. When you keep depriving them of everything… When they grow up - I am not saying everyone will join armed conflict - but eventually some of them will and Israel will have no one to blame but themselves.

RT: Is there any way to reduce casualties at least among minors in this ongoing conflict?

BD: I witnessed the Operation Protective Edge in 2014 at first hand; I was working at the Al-Shifa Hospital.  And I have seen virtually hundreds, maybe thousands over the 51 days of war, many of them, maybe up to 30-40 percent were children. Here in Gaza we are living in an enclave, it’s an open-air prison, we have no shelters, no alarming systems, it’s a very crowded area. I think there is absolutely no way to reduce casualties among children. But what can we do is to provide care for them after the hostilities are suspended, for example, psychiatric support to help them live their childhood afterwards. And the best thing of course is to lift the siege, but I think it is beyond the scope of our discussion right now.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.