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Submitted on
February 12, 2009
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Praying in Gaza by ademmm Praying in Gaza by ademmm
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<h1>Mosques destroyed by Israeli strikes, Gazans pray outdoors</h1>

<h5 class="byline">By Shashank Bengali and Dion Nissenbaum | McClatchy Newspapers</h5>

IZBIT ABED RABBO, Gaza Strip — It was just after noon on Friday and time for the weekly communal prayer on a day when many Gazans needed divine guidance, but there was no place to pray.

To see more images about some of the mosques that have been erazed by the Israel forces, please clik here.

Where the three-story Salahadin mosque once stood in this northern Gaza village, there’s only a mountain of rubble. Residents said that Israeli soldiers demolished the mosque, using dynamite and a bulldozer, two weeks ago during their war on the militant Islamic group Hamas.

So at prayer time in Izbit Abed Rabbo, the first Friday since both Israel and Hamas declared cease-fires, several dozen male worshippers gathered in a sandy clearing near the wreckage of the mosque. Some men laid down mats; others took off their jackets and spread them in the dirt. A few men sat with their knees in the sand and their heads bowed, listening to the sermon.

dears, we have to be patient. We have to have some faith in Allah,” said the imam, Mohammed Hamad. “Our prophets before us faced many struggles, and they were patient. We will wait for the compensation from God.”

Israel says its forces crippled Hamas militants and their infrastructure, but they also did staggering damage to places that mark the everyday lives of Gaza’s 1.5 million people. More than 1,300 Gazans, as well as 13 Israelis, died in the conflict.

Salahadin, where Hamad has been the imam for about 15 years, was one of 23 mosques that Palestinian officials say were damaged or destroyed in the offensive, along with 25 schools and hospitals, 1,500 factories and commercial structures and several thousand homes and apartment buildings. On Friday, under threatening skies, many Gazans had no choice but to pray outdoors.

Israel says that Hamas uses civilians as shields, and military officials have released video of weapons stored in mosques.

Residents said that militants didn’t use the Salahadin mosque, however, and that Israeli tactics did the gravest harm to civilians.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 1, 2006) — Most children in the Gaza Strip have been tear gassed, have had their homes searched and damaged, and have witnessed shooting, fighting and explosions. Many have been injured or tortured as a result of chronic war that spans generations, says a recent Queen’s University study.

According to the study, there is a pattern of violence against Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip that has serious and debilitating psychiatric and psychological effects.

“Gaza has been an occupied territory for a long time, and still is; Israel controls its borders, its air and water access. It has been described as a vast open-air detention centre” says Queen’s community health and epidemiology researcher John Pringle. “Bombs are being launched into Gaza during this latest eruption of Middle East violence, but are being ignored in light of other crises.”

The Psychological Effects of War on Palestinian Children is Pringle’s Master’s thesis and the only study of its kind, analyzing data from The Gaza Child Health Survey to describe relationships between war trauma and psychological problems in children.

According to the study, a child in Gaza who has had a severe head injury has 4 times the risk of emotional disorder. A child who has been severely beaten has 3.9 times the risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A child who has witnessed friends injured or killed has 13 times the risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A child in a refugee camp has 5 times a greater chance of witnessing traumatic events and 4 times a greater chance of direct physical trauma.

“Children comprise 47 per cent of Gaza’s population and are extremely vulnerable,” Pringle adds. “It seems the international community is neglecting them, that somehow Palestinian children don’t deserve the protections guaranteed under the Geneva Convention and humanitarian law. We must remember that where we drop our bombs, plant our landmines, and aim our guns, is where children are born, play, and go to school.”

Mr. Pringle is also a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF). MSF is an emergency medical humanitarian aid organization that primarily works in war-zones with populations in danger, usually in refugee camps. It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
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