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Study: Older children hit hardest by Gaza war

Dec. 20, 2012 4:06 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 23, 2012 11:33 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Older children were more affected by Israel's war on the Gaza Strip than younger children, a survey by UNICEF found.

UNICEF worked with the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution and Birzeit University to conduct a rapid psycho-social assessment of children in the hardest-hit areas of the Gaza Strip, four days after the Nov. 21 ceasefire.

Around three-quarters of the children surveyed had witnessed at least four violent events during the 8-day war.

"Older children reported significantly more experience in witnessing violent events, with no difference in exposure between boys and girls. The highest levels of children witnessing violence were found in Gaza City, followed by Khan Younis and north Gaza," UNICEF said in a statement.

Meanwhile, 83 percent reported that their homes were damaged or destroyed in the war. Of those surveyed, 14 percent were injured by Israeli shelling.

Some 94 percent slept with their parents during the war and over three-quarters suffered aches and illness. Nearly all children - 97 percent - felt insecure, and 82 percent felt angry.

Boys reported significantly more fears than girls, while more girls reported physical symptoms.

"It is well known that many of the symptoms related to exposure to violence disappear over time as children get back to normal life. Thus, bringing children back to normality is a priority for action," UNICEF said.

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