Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
A Hamas digger works in a tunnel used for smuggling supplies between Egypt and Gaza after being flooded with seawater by Egyptian army in Rafah in southern Gaza. Archive: Feb. 2016

{Originally posted to the PreOccupied Territory website}

Gaza City, February 28 – The Ministry of Health in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip dispatched social workers and a therapist last night to help treat a group of fighters who were in an underground tunnel when it collapsed, and now complain they feel “trapped.”

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At least five people were killed and an unknown number of others confined to the subterranean space Saturday night when the walls and ceiling of a passageway dug to conceal Hamas fighters from Israeli soldiers suddenly caved in. The situation has placed the survivors under intense psychological and emotional pressure, and authorities sought to react swiftly to help ameliorate their sense of imprisonment.

By itself the incident would attract little notice in the coastal territory, but economic circumstances have recently played an outsize role in a series of high-profile suicides there, and the ministry now confronts a greater sense of urgency to help treat emotional stress of the millions of Gazans who feel trapped. When the call arrived to help those who complained of such sentiments underground last night, officials wasted no time in sending the team, who also have a psychiatrist on call.

A ministry representative urged patience. “It is never easy to coax people out of their sense of being trapped,” cautioned Meff Fagher, Second Assistant Undersecretary for Mental Health Bureaucracy. “This is especially true in acute cases of such psychological and emotional isolation. It may yet take time to even get a response from those undergoing this treatment. So far they are still so consumed by their situation that they evidently have not felt disposed to giving the social workers or therapist the time of day. Their first goal will be to induce some kind of responsiveness.”

A spate of such tunnel collapses has hit the Gaza Strip over the last several months. Some analysts blame Israel for the incidents, while others cite a combination of the rain and the sheer number of tunnels, which have destabilized the ground. Public perception of the authorities’ reaction to those incidents has fed a sense that the Hamas government bureaucracy has done little to remedy the situation other than lash out at Israel, which increases the Strip’s sense of isolation. Facing such developments, the ministry embarked on the current attempt to alleviate the victims’ sense of feeling trapped with unprecedented haste.

“We fully expect the victims feel not only trapped, but crushed,” explained Fagher. “Not only are the circumstances severe from an emotional and mental standpoint, but there is no guarantee of long-term success. They are are in a very dark place right now.”

 

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24 COMMENTS

  1. It is a known fact of life that Karma has a way of finding you..

    Oh what a tangled web they weave, when first they practice to deceive…
    I feel badly that they were caught in their own web, but this was their own horrible doing…
    Happens when your intent is evil…

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