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Thursday, November 03, 2005

 

An Appeal to individuals and professional organizations

From Dr. Eyad Sarraj of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program
(thanks Jeff)

November 3, 2005

We appeal to you to join us in protest against the Israeli Air Force policy to fly over the occupied Gaza strip, and intentionally break the sound barrier to create supersonic booms over Gaza.
The current operation started on October 27, 2005.

The latest 'non-lethal' Israeli attack, is directed at the entire civilian population. It is criminal in its very nature, and therefore totally unacceptable. It is another measure in a long row of systematic atrocities, persecution, and destruction that the Israeli army has inflicted on Gaza Palestinians during the last years. In the context of the wide spread horrors which Israel perpetuated against Gaza civilians earlier, such as massive home destructions, inflicting numerous death on children and their parents, and the increasing malnutrition which Gaza children suffer because of continuing unemployment, closures and sieges


As mental health professionals, we know that this campaign of supersonic booms is a severe risk for the mental health of children who are trying to recover from the severe traumas caused by the military occupation.

Research done in GCMHP shows that in areas where heavy home destruction was practiced the level of PTSD was as high as 54% among children, and that adds an overwhelming strain on the development of mother-child relations develop
We demand an urgent stop of these and similar criminal acts against helpless civilians, most of which have becoming refugees as a result of Israeli expulsion, in 1948. These people have suffered more than enough.

As you will see from attached news reports in the Israeli press, this evil operation, which is directed indiscriminately against the entire Palestinian population of Gaza, is something the Israeli regime takes pride in.

Gaza Community Mental Health Program -GCMHP jointly with the Israeli Physician for Human Rights – PHR-Israel, filed yesterday a petition against the Israeli Ministry of Defense and asked the country’s High Court to ban this flights.

But as the Israeli court is accustomed to approve most measures of Israel’s military, we urge you to act to bring pressure on the Israeli government.

Please send your protests to the addresses mention here, and disseminate this information further. Please contact your governments and ask them to make their voices heard, and join this protest.

Background:

Translation of fragments of reports, which appeared in the Hebrew Media lately.

On 27 October 2005 Haaretz Defense Commentator Zeev Schiff wrote, “Some of the direct military pressure (of the Israeli military) will be directed (at the terrorists) through the Palestinian population. It is anticipated that the Israeli Air Force will cause supersonic booms over certain areas in the (Gaza) strip. These booms will primarily affect the civilian inhabitants. (Note: That portion only appeared in the Hebrew Edition). Link: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtPE.jhtml?itemNo=638423&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0

These sound booms’ operation had hardly started when the protests of Israeli civilians started pouring in. The Israeli press described the booms as “mysterious” and the Israeli military spokesman denied any knowledge of the operation. (Israeli citizens living in places as distant from Gaza as 50 kilometers and more were alarmed by the booms, which they described as “horrific”, “disturbing” and “very frightening”).
The (Israeli) Air Force in Gaza

by Hanan Griberg, YNET. 2 November 2005 In Hebrew.

http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3163407,00.html

"(Israel) must produce a real deterrence in Gaza"

In an interview with YNET, the AF commander Major General Eliezer Shkeidi told about the new role of the Israeli Air Force in the war in the (Gaza) Strip:
Following the IDF evacuation of the Gaza strip, the Air Force is next to being the only operating force in the sector. "Now we operate in all the configurations; the fighting system, which was not highly deployed in the past, flies a hell of a lot. It performs supersonic booms, it attacks infrastructure, roads axis and approaches roads from which Qassam rockets are fired. The fighter jets, helicopters and drones are continuously active”.

Maj. Gen. Shkeidi (quoted in the article as “a very senior AF officer”) describes the supersonic booms, which the IDF fighter jets sound over the (Gaza) strip as "non lethal weapons". He says, "the volume level (which is currently used) is not at its top level now”, adding: “Believe me, when it is at maximal level you could not live”...

Shkeidi describes this is an “effective non-lethal tool, when coupled together with ‘targeted killings’ (i.e. summary executions) and other activities which comprise the deterrence". Shkeidi confirmed that the (Israeli) Air Force executes “complicated and dangerous tasks, such as low altitude night flights to cause supersonic booms”.

References:
Qouta, S., Punamaki, R. L. & El Sarraj, E. (2003). Prevalence and determinants of PTSD among Palestinian children exposed to military violence. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,12,265-272

Qouta, S., Punamäki, R. L., & El Sarraj, E. (2005). Mother-Child _Expression of Psychological Distress in War Trauma. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry,10,135-156

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