Traumatized Gaza children relieved by mind-body techniques

09:39, July 12, 2011      

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by Fares Akram

The 10-year-old Nariman al-Attar had suffered from nightmare and a low learning level since the end of Israel's three-week military operation in the Gaza Strip nearly two and a half years ago.

But this semester, Nariman has done better in school while nightmare and fear she used to feel have almost gone.

That was only when Nariman started attending sessions to treat the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in her neighborhood in northern Gaza Strip.

The treatment uses techniques involving mind and body without any drugs. The training is sponsored and overseen by the Washington-based Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM), run by the U.S. psychiatrist James S. Gordon.

Gordon, who is a Jew, came to Gaza the first time in 2002, amid violent fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups a year after the outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada (uprising).

But after the Gaza war, which ended in January 2009 and left some 1,400 Palestinians dead and thousands of houses demolished, there have been more traumatized children.

"Before the war, there had been some children affected, but after the war, you can find some areas where all children are suffering traumas," Gordon said.

Nariman's area, Al-Atatra, was the scene of ground military incursion and their house was partially damaged. Her mother recalls that the Israeli soldiers held the family at their house for nine days before letting them walk out of the area waving a white flag.

At the hall of social association in Beit Lahiya town, women and their children sat to meet Gordon and his team.

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