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Psychologist: Soldiers May be Subject to Long-Term Trauma

Eliyahu Ackerman, who heads a team of psychologists working in Gush Katif, says the trauma of expelling innocent people from their homes is likely to have a long-term impact on IDF troops.



By Scott Shiloh
First Publish: 8/16/2005, 5:10 PM / Last Update: 8/16/2005, 5:33 PM

“I think that the residents (of Gush Katif) who are carrying out this struggle based on their faith” will be able to overcome the trauma, he said. “They know that if, they’re expelled, it’s a part of the larger struggle for the character of the state. It’s not the end of the road.”

On the other hand, Ackerman said, “for a large portion of the security forces, who are carrying out an order that they do not identify with,” merely because they are compelled to do so by the system, they are being exposed to “trauma.”

“They enter a home full of books” to expel its residents, “with the family gathered around” and all they have behind them is just “following orders.” The trauma, said Ackerman, will stay with the soldiers for their entire lives.

Ackerman said that soldiers who forcibly evicted Jews from Yamit in Sinai 23 years ago are still suffering from such trauma.

“There are a lot of soldiers and officers here who are crying,” he said. “What’s happening pains them, but they are determined to follow orders because that big organization called the IDF is telling them to do so. They can’t conceive of the giant IDF not being able to carry out an operation.”

Regarding the participation of children and youth in demonstrations against the expulsion, Ackerman said that special guidance has been provided for parents. “We can’t exclude the children because they’re part of the story,” he said. “They’re participants and the research shows that taking them out of the struggle could cause worse harm” than participating until they’re carried out.

They must take part, “up until the last minute,” said Ackerman. “Because a person who stick’s it out” will feel more at ease with himself.