Palestine: depression on the rise in occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip

Middle East Monitor  /  February 22, 2023

More than 50 per cent of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and 70 per cent in the Gaza Strip suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a survey shared by the World Bank and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). The results of the Psychological Conditions Survey were presented in Ramallah yesterday.

The survey revealed that Palestinians in Gaza suffer higher levels of PTSD than those in the West Bank, and that men had more severe symptoms than women since they tend to be exposed more to traumatic events. It was conducted following the 11-day Israeli offensive against Gaza in May 2021, during which 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed. More than 1,900 people were wounded.

The World Bank and the PCBS said that the results of the survey show that the mental well-being of children, young people and caregivers has deteriorated dramatically since then. Ten per cent of Palestinians in Gaza lost a family member or friend in the Israeli assault; another 10 per cent were injured; and 25 per cent had their house damaged or destroyed.

Moreover, the survey identified a direct relationship between extreme poverty and increasing mental health disorders. This is significant given that more than two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip and suffer from deteriorating economic conditions as a direct result of the Israeli blockade imposed on the territory since 2006.

Around 70 per cent of the Palestinian population in Gaza is struggling with food insecurity and requires aid, say World Food Program officials. Unemployment stands at around 69 per cent. Israeli bombs have devastated the business community and infrastructure, meaning that recovery will be very difficult.

According to WAFA news agency, those who attended the workshop organized by the World Bank and the PCBS included representatives of ministries, research institutions, universities, federations, international organizations and UN institutions.