Tal Rosner / YNet News & CBC News – 2005-11-05 08:30:43
IAF’s Sonic Booms Hurting Gazans
Tal Rosner / YNet News
(November 2, 2005) — Petitioners argue Israel Air Force supersonic booms over Gaza Strip causing anxiety to children; court petitioned to halt booms
The Gaza Community Mental Health Program and the “Physicians for Human Rights – Israel’ group have petitioned the High Court of Justice to immediately halt Israel Air Force supersonic booms over the Gaza Strip during flights over the area.
The petition included the professional opinion of psychiatrists who argued that the booms are causing considerable emotional damage to the Palestinian population and children in particular.
Physicians argue that the supersonic booms heard in Gaza overnight have caused anxiety to children who live in constant fear because they cannot differentiate supersonic booms from missile explosions. Most children suffering from anxiety have nightmares and complain of dizziness and headache, the physicians added.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Program stresses in the petition that it is opposed to the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel, acknowledging the fact that the booms are a reaction to such attacks.
“It is a collective and inappropriate punishment that hurts the honor and rights of the residents, and it is in contradiction to the Geneva Convention and the International Convention for the rights of children,” claims the ‘Physicians for Human Rights – Israel’ group.
Israeli citizens living in communities around Gaza have also complained of the booms caused by IAF flights over the Gaza Strip.
Low-altitude Flights over Gaza a Form of Punishment: Doctors’ Groups
(November 3, 2005) — Medical groups and the United Nations have condemned Israel’s low-altitude air force flights over the Gaza Strip as an abuse of human rights.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Program has joined with Physicians for Human Rights to file a petition at the country’s Supreme Court seeking to stop the flights, which routinely break the sound barrier. They say the flights are a form of “collective punishment” against a civilian population, violating international law.
The groups say the sonic booms cause nightmares and anxiety in children, while the region’s number of spontaneous abortions has soared.
Dr. Eyad el-Sarraj, a Gaza psychiatrist, filed his medical opinion with the court documents citing evidence that the flights scare children, who are suffering from “depressive thoughts, glorification of violence, increased feelings of vulnerability and alertness.”
The doctor points out the flights usually occur when children are going to and from school, resulting in their “poor concentration.”
The report also refers to a Palestinian Ministry of Health figure of a 30 to 40 per cent increase in spontaneous abortions during the end of October, when the flights were at their peak.
The report warns the flights “will sow the seeds of hatred.”
UN spokesman Khaled Abdul Shafi says the agency has already filed a letter of protest to the Israeli government.
According to The Independent newspaper, the Israeli military contends the flights are a less threatening alternative to using artillery. The Defence Ministry says the sonic booms are a “message to terrorists” and do not inflict long-term damage.
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