Ramallah- "I don't want to cry, but I was very afraid for my mother, father and brothers," Ritaj justified her crying as she talked about the burning of her house by settlers, and her family survived imminent death yesterday.
It was morning when the 10-year-old heard the sound of a strong explosion, when her father was trying to get her sister out of the room closest to the place of fire, "At first I did not understand that the house is burning, I could not see anything because of the thick smoke, but when my father carried me to get me out the fire was very close," so the girl tells Al Jazeera Net.
Ritaj lives with her parents and three siblings in the West Bank town of Sinjil, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, which has been the focus of settler attacks last year, but she never expected her home to be the target of such attacks.
Her father, Ahmed Maher Awashra, did not see the settlers directly, but when he woke up to the sound of an explosion in the house, he heard the sounds of people outside from the back of the kitchen window, which he later found broken.
The Awashra family house is the closest to the main street where the settlers gather, which made Awashra secure the house by building a concrete wall from the front, but when the settlers' assault on the village intensified, the family left the house and moved to the grandfather's house in the middle of the village.
All his father's efforts were to spare his children the fear he saw on their faces when they heard the settlers' attacks, or their singing, dancing and screaming at the nearby junction, especially after the burning of the town of Huwwara, which is located along the same street from the northern side of Nablus.
Ritaj tells Al Jazeera Net the state of panic that she felt after the settlers burned her family home in Sinjil in Ramallah (Al Jazeera)
Despite his shock and anguish at losing everything he owned in the house he had renovated and lived in since 2009, his greatest fear was for the safety of his children, and keeping them away from the scene of burning and destruction.
We met the children at the grandfather's house, where family members gathered around them to calm them down, but the four children in this place were fully aware that they had lost everything, as Ritaj told us, "Everything was burned, my books, my clothes, my toys, we had nothing left."
Ritaj was strong in expressing herself and the sadness she felt, yet the effects of shock were visible on her face, along with her younger sister Rital, whose crying scene after being taken out of the house topped the media.
All the time Retal (6 years old) was sticking to her mother, and during her talk to Al Jazeera Net she said that she will not cry as she tells the details of what happened, but sad for her home, which she was born and grew up in.
Settler attacks traumatize Retal (Al Jazeera)
The story of Rital and her siblings was not the only one in the context of being traumatized by repeated attacks by settlers and attempts to burn their homes, which were associated in the minds of Palestinians with the burning of the Dawabsha family in 2015.
Dozens of children from villages south of Nablus have suffered from psychological symptoms that need urgent interventions, says psychiatrist and neurologist Mahmoud Sehweil, especially after being subjected for more than a year to repeated settler attacks, the latest of which was the burning of the town of Huwwara on February 26.
Sehweil – in his interview with Al Jazeera Net – defined psychological trauma as "events that go beyond the limits of the familiar human experience, resulting in reactions or symptoms, represented in the form of fear, sadness, nightmares, emotional rigidity, bouts of crying, anger and loss of confidence. etc."
These symptoms can be temporary and last only weeks, and some of them can turn into pathological conditions, such as sleep disturbance, increased heartbeat, involuntary tremors, bedwetting, avoiding mixing, panic attacks, screaming and crying, difficulties concentrating and speaking, as well as pulling hair, according to the psychiatrist.
To alleviate and avoid these symptoms, Sehweil explains that the child needs quick interventions to help him discharge the negative charges he feels, family and community support, as well as the rapid restoration of the environment to which he belongs and his return to his normal life.
Hala Soufan bitterly recalls the attacks by extremists in the settlement of Yitzhar on them in the village of Burin, south of Nablus (Al-Jazeera)
However, these interventions may seem insufficient with the complexities of the Palestinian situation, due to the recurrence and systematic continuation of these events, in some areas settler attacks have been ongoing for years.
The village of Burin, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, is one of the areas where these attacks have not stopped for years, especially isolated homes near settlements, as is the case with the Soufan family home.
Hala Ayman Soufan (12 years old) talks to Al Jazeera Net about the daily horror she lives with her family (her father, mother, four brothers, her uncle, his wife and their two children) as a result of the attacks of extremists in the settlement of Yitzhar established on the town's land.
This house is the closest to the settlement, and for 20 years, settlers have been trying to pressure the family to take control of the surrounding land, having tried to burn it more than once, first in 2002 and most recently on February 26.
Hala describes it as the most difficult day of her life, when more than 100 settlers gathered around the house, screaming and throwing stones before setting fire to the outer room and burning the family's vehicles.
This scene ignited her memory of what she heard from her father and uncles when the settlers tried to burn the house down as children, so she felt very scared.
Ahmad Awashra's house in the town of Sinjil in the central West Bank was not spared from settler attacks (Al-Jazeera)
Like Hala, there are 25 children in the town – under the age of 15 – receiving treatment to help them overcome the psychological effects.
Ghassan al-Najjar, an activist of the village committee to resist settlements, said that parents noticed disturbances in their children's behavior, all of which were new cases during the past year, which necessitated the committee to coordinate with civil institutions that provide psychological support to children.
He explained that the most prominent symptoms that parents talked about are problems in education, sleep, lack of concentration, bedwetting, and fear of leaving homes or going to school.
In addition to psychological intervention with specialists, these institutions hold artistic, sports and community events for children to help them unload, according to Al-Najjar's interview with Al Jazeera Net.
Eyas Al-Dumaidi needs immediate and long-term psychological interventions due to the horror he was subjected to in Huwara (Al Jazeera)
What the Burin Settlement Resistance Committee is doing, with local initiatives, may not be available in many Palestinian communities that are subjected to permanent attacks, which necessitates a comprehensive national action, the psychiatrist said, adding, "We conducted a survey 10 years ago and it was found that 21% of Palestinians need urgent psychological interventions, I think this percentage has increased a lot."
"We need to conduct a comprehensive study to assess the problem and then develop a national strategy to address all the psychological effects of it on children, so that it does not worsen after years to serious societal diseases," Sehwil said.
Eyas Iyad al-Dumaidi, 9, may be one of the children in need of immediate and long-term interventions, as Sehweil diagnoses, who was with his mother and younger siblings when the family home was burned down in the town of Huwara a month ago.
The settlers gathered under his house, broke windows and threw petrol bombs, accompanied by Israeli occupation soldiers, who rained tear gas canisters on the area, injuring his cousin in the nearby house with a bomb in the head, while his father and older brother were outside the house.
His mother tried to reassure him and his siblings, but the settlers' constant screaming and burning of nearby houses made them feel very scared, and his younger brother lost his speech for days afterward.