Occupied Palestinian Territories - Nablus: “acts of violence are recurrent and increasing”

April 15, 2012


"My name is Sarah Château. I am 30 years old. I was part of an evaluation mission to Kosovo, spent three years as the coordinator of psycho-social programs in the Philippines and have three years' experience working on migration and development in Morocco. I have been working in the humanitarian aid and development sectors since 2005, when I finished my studies. On my first MSF mission, I served as project coordinator in Nablus, in the West Bank, from July 2011 – January 2012. I hold that same position today, but I now work for the MSF France mission.

Occupied Palestinian Territories - Nablus: “acts of violence are recurrent and increasing”

MSF has been working in Nablus since 2004.

The context there has changed a lot in just over seven years. While I was there, the situation was fairly calm, compared to the years of conflict and violence that preceded my stay. The city of Nablus is now quite calm and the Israeli Army conducts fewer nighttime incursions.

But that's not the case in the surrounding villages or the neighboring district of Qalqilya, where MSF is also working. Israeli settlers commit acts of violence on a recurring and increasingly frequent basis. That's because the settlements continue to grow regularly and the number of settlers is increasing and because a number of critical events have occurred since September, including the U.N. demand for recognition of a Palestinian state, the admission of the Palestinian Territories to UNESCO,* the freeing of the French-Israeli solder, Gilad Shalit (who had been held in Gaza since 2005) in exchange for the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners and the reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas. As a result, Israeli settlers initiated many actions against Palestinian villages, particularly in the Nablus area, have severely increased since 2010. Simultaneously, the settlements have continued to expand and the number of Palestinian houses and other structures and the number of persons displaced thus doubled between 2010 and 2011.

* United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

MSF runs a psycho-medical-social program in Nablus.

We treat people who are victims of both the external conflict (including operations conducted by the Israeli Army and attacks by settlers) and the internal conflict (between members of Hamas and Fatah following the 2006 elections). Our approach is based on short-term therapy, which involves 8-15 sessions per patient. We work primarily on trauma-related and recurring symptoms, such as anxiety, enuresis, withdrawal and nightmares. The serious cases involve depression and post-traumatic symptoms. Short-term therapy does not help with chronic cases, so our psychologists cannot treat them.

When the patient has no more therapy sessions remaining, the MSF psychologist can ask for support from the rest of the multidisciplinary team. For example, the doctor will prescribe psychotropic medications or will treat medical problems, if necessary. The social worker can help the patient find other resources and/or identify local support groups that will then provide support, such as women's groups”.

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