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The Hidden Cost of Israel's Restraint

By Michael Freund
9/27/2006, 12:00 AM

Over the past few months, Israel has deliberately refrained from using overwhelming force to stop the ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks against Jewish towns and cities in the Negev.

The result has been daily barrages against Israeli communities, which continued even after the start of yesterday's precarious cease-fire.

But there is a hidden cost to Israel's inexplicable restraint, as some newly published research now reveals.

SderotkidsA study conducted by Tel Hai College has found that at least one-third (!!) of the children in the Negev town of Sderot suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

According to Prof. Moli Lahad, who oversaw the study, at least one parent of each of these children likely also suffers from PTSD. "These grave figures stem from the fact that the parents' basic security in their ability to protect their children has been completely shaken," Lahad said. "About a third of the population - adults and children­- suffers from acute anxiety, meaning that any occurrence is immediately interpreted as a threat and people spend their entire lives 'on alert.'"

According to the experts, PTSD in children can lead to a range of effects, from sleep disturbances to greater impulsiveness and aggressiveness to anxiety disorders and even to depression.

Oddly enough, one of the reasons that Israel has not gone in to Gaza in full force has been the fear of how this might affect Palestinian civilians.

But as the Tel Hai research demonstrates, Israel's leadership has failed to take into account how its policy might impact Israeli civilians.

And since a government's primary responsibility is to protect its own people, it is time for our leaders to wake up and take notice. Because by failing to stop Palestinian terror, they are directly harming the future not only of our children, but of the country itself.