A total of 550 Israelis around the country needed treatment for anxiety attacks during the first week of Operation Protective Edge, according to the Health Ministry.
The figures were released on Tuesday at a meeting of the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee. The figure constitutes many times more than the number of people physically injured by the rockets. The session was held to mark the 9th anniversary of the disengagement from Gaza.
Over 700 members of Maccabi Health Services called the health fund’s hot line, but only 23 percent of them were residents of the South where the heaviest rocket fire is taking place.
“It may be that they have gotten used to it or they are more emotionally resilient, because of their experience over the years, than residents of other regions that have not been attacked by rockets before, said Ruth Wagner, Maccabi’s chief social worker in the southern region.
Yishai Kom, the chief social worker of Meuhedet Health Services, said its hotline was receiving 300 calls per day related to anxiety and psychological trauma due to the lack of fortified spaces. Most of these live in Bat Yam, Holon, Rishon Lezion and Lod.
Bell Ben-Gershon of the Health Ministry said that many residents of the South and evacuees from Gush Katif suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome along with financial difficulties.
Between 5% and 10% of people who suffer from PTSD will be disabled from its emotional complications for years, said Health Ministry official Dr. Yochi Siman Tov.