Childhood in the shadow of airstrikes and rockets

The latest escalation which broke out in May 2021 in Gaza and Israel is one of the most intense hostilities that we, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), have witnessed in the region in years.

A mostly invisible consequence of conflict is the impact it has on the mental and psychosocial well-being of people who live under recurrent cycles of violence. This is especially true for children.

Supporting children's mental health can be lifesaving in times of conflict and is just as important as stitching up a bleeding wound or having clean water.

The memories that stick to my mind are the sounds of airstrikes and ambulances. In the evening and when it's dark, I'm most afraid. - AHED


Palestinian children who grow up in Gaza and children living in the south of Israel will bear the mental consequences of hostilities for many years to come. Drones buzzing, rockets roaring, airstrikes banging and sirens wailing... Children in Israel and Gaza live in constant fear.

Among other psychological signs, they suffer from stress, fear, irritable mood, despair, and bedwetting, and they try to avoid images or anything that might bring back memories of the traumatic events and night terrors.

Suddenly, there was a 'boom'. I was really scared. My mom told me to run to the shelter...and I simply cried. I didn't understand what was going on or why there were so many 'booms'. - URIA 


Repeated violence puts an additional burden on the population. After hostilities are over, the extent of traumatic experiences that people in general, and children in particular, will have suffered will be enormous.

Our neighbor's house was bombed at six o'clock in the morning. I couldn't sleep because the bombing was so intense. I cannot forget the scenes of the dead and the injured being pulled out from under the rubble. - BILAL

When I hear the door, I immediately whisper to myself, 'is the war back? Will we lose our home? Are we going to die? - AMAL

"I was outdoors with my family when the sirens went off. The shelter was far from us. We didn't have time to hide in it. So, we lied down on the ground...hands on our heads. - ALMA

I like imaginative play because I don't have to be in the real world. - SHAKED

The moment the ceiling came crashing down on my bedroom, I felt like all of my dreams were shattered... I felt like I lost all of my beautiful memories. - RAHAF

Children who live in conflict zones grow up with a constant sense of potential -and sometimes inevitable- loss.

Amid all this anger, panic, sadness, loneliness, and fear, those children's dreams are to become astronauts, dentists, football players, lawyers, artists, and professional swimmers.

Like other children worldwide, those children like to read, draw, act, play sports, and go out with their family and friends. Despite all the horror, they still have hopes and dreams for a better future.