MSF is giving psychological support to those affected by the military operation currently being carried out by the Israeli army in the district of Hebron in the West Bank. In response to this situation, one doctor, five MSF psychologists and five MSF social workers are visiting the most affected areas every day.
“Our patients are people who have been injured, have had family members detained or killed, or have had their homes destroyed or raided,” explains Juan Carlos Cano, MSF general coordinator in Jerusalem.
The military operation to locate the three young Israeli settlers who disappeared on 12 June involves controls (checkpoints) on streets and highways, house-to-house searches and movement restrictions for the population which is affecting normal activity in schools and businesses, and hampers access to health facilities. According to several patients, dogs are used in some of the incursions, and tear gas or small bombs are used to blow open the doors.
Since the beginning of the intervention, the MSF teams have given first psychological assistance to 200 people, and have done psycho-education and counseling group sessions with 654 people. Children are the most affected and are at risk of developing psychosomatic symptom such as enuresis, sleeping problems and constant worry. Psychologists will follow upon patients who may potentially suffer from post-traumatic symptoms.
Psychosocial workers also refer cases to other organisations for more specialised needs (medical and social) and MSF has provided food parcels to some families whose houses have been demolished.
Military operations are also ongoing in Nablus district. MSF is present in the area and is monitoring and assessing the psychological needs in order to respond according.
MSF has been active in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1989, providing free medical and mental healthcare in several locations in the West Bank and Gaza and responding to different emergencies. Since 2001, MSF has been carrying out a psychological support programme with medical and social components in Hebron Governorate.