As part of the DCI-Palestine‘s report on the experiences of West Bank Palestinian children in the Israeli-military justice system from April 2012, A professional opinion by mental health practitioners was published, focusing on the psychological effects of the situation on the children.
The opinion was written by members of PsychoActive, a group of practicing and academic mental health professionals who are active in areas of social and political concern, particularly in regards to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. In preparation of the Report, DCI-Palestine provided a group within Psychoactive, who are currently investigating the issue of military detention of Palestinian minors, with 15 randomly selected testimonies relied on by the Report for the purpose of obtaining an insight into some of the psychological effects on children of being held in the Israeli military detention system.
The written opinion highlighted several points, such as:
- The arrests and interrogations as potentially traumatic events.
- Experiences during the night time arrest which are likely to give rise to disorientation, humiliation, horror, and helplessness.
- Doubts as to the credibility of the confessions extracted.
- Likelihood of lasting psychological traumatization, such as difficulties in falling asleep, nightmares, bedwetting, increased startle response, difficulties in concentrating, loss of interest, loss of self worth, anxiety disorders and depression.
- The damage to resources of Family support due to exposure to parental helplessness, due to restricted families’ visits at the time of the detention, and due to long term emotional consequences: after the night arrest, the family home is no longer the safe haven, and the parents’ authority and dignity is damaged.
- Dangerous effects of shame about feelings of vulnerability and of reluctancy regarding sharing difficult emotions, that might lead to harmful emotional dissociation
- Dangers of embarrassment or guilt feelings of boys who confess and induced to give names of friends and relatives.
- Potentially harmful effects of interruption of the school curriculum
- The effects of a context of collective and personal experience of life under occupation and military threat.