At least 12 children killed in air strikes on their Gaza homes were receiving psycho-social trauma care

Children were being treated for severe anxiety, trauma, and daily nightmares due to living conditions and violence in Gaza

At least 12 of the 65 children killed in Israeli air strikes on their Gaza homes were dealing with psychological conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said.

Specialists determined they had severe anxiety, regular nightmares and trauma as a result of the violence and difficult living conditions.

“They were receiving counselling and were taught exercises to be able to cope with the stress, trauma and daily nightmares arising out of their exposure to the violence of living under Israeli siege,” the NRC’s regional media advisor in the Middle East Karl Schembri told The National.

Hala Mohammad Al Kawlak, 12, was killed along with her cousin Hanaa, 14, in their two-storey home on Al Wedha Street, where they lived with their parents and extended family.

A small, family-owned supermarket put the two girls in school.

“Hala was an excellent student. She was always committed to her classes and exams. She was polite and liked drawing and colouring. She liked art classes so much,” said her teacher Ahlam Al Shanti.

Hanaa was a bookworm.

“Hanaa was a diligent student. She liked sport and Arabic classes,” Ms Al Shanti told the NRC team who was attempting to get in contact with the girls' families.

On May 16, eight children working with the NRC were killed in a single day, including Tala Ayman Abu Al Auf, 13, and her 17-year-old brother.

Their father, Dr Ayman Abu Al Auf, was the head of internal medicine at Gaza city’s Shifa hospital. He was also killed.

“Tala was an excellent student. She liked to memorise the Quran. She was so active in her math classes,” school counsellor Majeda Abu Amir said.

All the 11 children were between 5 and 15 years old.

“They were killed in their homes in densely populated areas along with countless other relatives who died or [...] received injuries,” the NRC said.

The casualties included:

Lina Iyad Sharir, 15

She was killed with her parents on May 11 at her home in the Al Manara neighbourhood, Gaza city. Her sister, 2, suffers from third-degree burns. She is in critical condition.

Hala Hussein Al Rifi, 13

Hala was killed on May 12 when an air strike hit the Salha residential building in the Tal Al Hawa neighbourhood, Gaza city.

Zaid Mohammad Al Telbani, 4

Killed in the same strike as Hala, along with his 5-month-pregnant mother, Rima. Zaid's sisters are missing and presumed dead.

Dima Rami Al Ifranji, 15, and Mira Rami Al Ifranji, 11

Mira and Dima were sisters.

Dana Riad Ishkantna, 9

Dana was Dima and Mira's neighbour.

Rafeef Murshed Abu Dayer, 10

She was killed by shrapnel along with her two brothers while having lunch in the garden of the Ghazi Shawa building. Rafeef's 11th birthday would have been on May 25.

Yara Mohammad Al Kawlak, 9, and Rula Mohammad Al Kawlak, 5

Rula and Yara were Hala's sisters.

Dima Saad Asaliya, 10

She was killed on 19 May in northern Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp at around 8pm by shrapnel after an Israeli missile hit nearby as she walked home. She had gone to bring the bread cooker from her sister's house - some 50 metres away from home.

Updated: May 21, 2021 07:24 PM

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