Haaretz: Hamas attack caused widespread psychological damage to Israelis (Reuters)

A report published by the Israeli newspaper "Haaretz" said that Israelis do not stop watching videos of the attack of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on the seventh of last October that are published through social media and text messages, saying that the consequences of this are psychologically devastating for them.

The report's author, Yael Hallaq, says that those who watch these videos suffer from symptoms of "post-traumatic stress disorder" due to the intense viewing and addiction to images posted on social media and text messages.

One Israeli woman says she has never been directly and in such detail subjected to atrocities of this kind.

Thousands ask for help

Dr. Sherry Daniels, director of an organization that oversees Israel's Eran Emotional First Aid Hotline, said that since the start of the war the line has responded to more than 50,<> calls, adding that most of the calls were from people who were not directly affected by Hamas attacks.

He explained that this number of calls represents a 100% increase compared to routine times, noting that during the first few days, the line received 3500,1500 calls a day, and still receives <>,<> calls per day. People who come into contact with him report symptoms of trauma from watching videos.

Collapse and stop eating

Among the calls involved, the report says, one mother spoke about her daughter who stopped eating after watching the videos," Daniels said, "A student reported that she collapsed after seeing a clip. One man said he ignored the experts' recommendations and had not slept well since watching the video.

Dr Nirit Gordon, a clinical psychologist specialising in trauma, was quoted as saying that people "don't eat, don't sleep, can't speak and their abilities to function deteriorate."

Therapist Galit Feldman, who works with individuals, couples and families, adds that no one in the country sleeps, "Patients tell me 'I don't sleep,' or 'I sleep and wake up because of a nightmare.' Feldman comments that they are collective symptoms, and there is no doubt that they are directly and closely related to the massive viewing of these videos.

Affects couples and children

Feldman goes on to say that exposure to images of violent war has effects beyond our psychological capabilities, affecting relationships with our partners as well as parenting relationships, as children notice our expressions when we watch clips, and "if we only convey the trauma and do not mediate it with messages of hope, it can have a negative impact on our children," as children usually derive confidence and resilience from watching us.

Feldman adds that when children watch their parents cope, remain optimistic and deal with challenges, they imitate those behaviors, and on the other hand, if they see their parents crying and hurting, for example, after watching media reports, it will be difficult for them to overcome such situations themselves.

Decreased sexual performance

A new, yet unpublished Israeli study of the current war in Gaza found that prolonged exposure to images or content related to war events causes decreased sexual performance, traumatic symptoms, hypervigilance, a constant feeling that a person is constantly "awake," flashbacks, feelings of detachment, anxiety, etc.

Feldman expressed his fear of a wave of post-war violence, aggression and domestic violence, noting that the brain learns and imitates, and this becomes an integral part of us unconsciously, as exposure to violent content over time leads to reduced sensitivity.

"We develop negativity, things become normal, the brain of an entire society gets used to sadism and violence on a new and extreme level, we become less sensitive to needs, to distress, and we will be less empathetic to the other," he says.

Prevent the distribution of the attack film

The report said that the Israeli authorities, aware of the potentially severe psychological consequences, have so far prevented the distribution of the 45-minute film of the Hamas attack, which was compiled by the IDF Spokesperson's unit.

Officials screen the film, supervised and on a limited basis, to journalists and policymakers in various countries, in order to show what has really happened and rally international support for Israel.

Mental health practitioners urged the Israeli government not to make the full film available to the public at large. A few weeks ago, Professor Eyal Fruchter, president of Israel's National Council for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, wrote warning that "watching the film may harm the viewer, and if the film is leaked or watched by a wide audience, it will be harmful to them."

Source: Haaretz