Daily Israel Report

Evicted Ulpana Children Suffering Trauma, Says Expert

The Welfare Department in Beit El is helping the evicted children of the Ulpana neighborhood get over the trauma of losing their homes.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 6/28/2012, 4:15 AM

Ulpana eviction
Ulpana eviction
Hezki Ezra

The director of the Welfare Department in Beit El, Hedva Ariel, said on Wednesday that the children who were evicted from their homes in the Ulpana neighborhood are suffering from trauma. She said that the trauma has created many problems within the families who were evicted.

“These are families who have been under a threat of eviction for a long time, be it voluntarily or involuntarily,” Ariel told Arutz Sheva. “The families who were evacuated this week underwent situations of uncertainty and difficulty, wondering whether they will be evicted or not, how and when.”

She added, “We have been in touch with these families since the beginning of the year. We provided assistance to the children, who have experienced a lot of fears and nightmares as a result of the anticipated eviction. We held for them some workshops with psychologists, and provided parents with training on how to help their children with fears. We also provided them with some joyful activities, in order to facilitate the difficult and traumatic experience.”

The first 15 families moved out of their homes in the Ulpana neighborhood without any resistance on Tuesday, following an agreement between the Beit El leadership and the government, which has promised to build 300 new homes in Beit El. Another 15 will leave their homes and move to a nearby neighborhood of temporary caravans on Thursday.

Ariel said that the fact that the residents left their homes without any resistance caused even greater problems for the children.

“The word voluntary is a very difficult and inappropriate word in this case,” she said. “To the children it was not a voluntary eviction but a forced one. They wanted to continue living in their house and saw no reason why they had to leave.”

She added, “The fact that there was no resistance made it harder for them to express their protest and the feeling that it was not voluntary. The media presented it as though it was voluntary and that also increased their anger, because they wanted to stay there. The fact that they did it voluntarily because they were forced to do so, is causing them to now turn inward because they did not get to express their pain.”

Ariel noted that the best experts who helped treat the expellees from Gush Katif are now trying to minimize the damage caused to the evicted families in Beit El.

“We have professionals to help them express their pain,” she said. “We’ve had some success but we still have a lot of work. Children are most vulnerable because they do not have the tools that adults do, and even for an adult it takes a while before he can process the loss.”

“We must also pay attention to see how each child responds, because everyone reacts differently,” added Ariel. “Some children experience fears and nightmares. We saw some children in Gush Katif and Migron who could not attend school. They had difficulty concentrating in school because they were emotionally overwhelmed by pain and anger. They found it difficult to collect themselves and needed much investment to help them psychologically. We hope that everyone in Beit El will rehabilitated quickly.”