The first psychological study that investigated how Israeli teens in the South coped with the fall of rockets and missiles during Operation Pillar of Defense in November showed that Beduin youth suffered from more emotional stress and pessimism than their Jewish counterparts.

Prof. Shifra Sagi, head of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s program for conflict management and resolution, along with her colleagues, examined the reactions and coping mechanisms of Jewish and Beduin adolescents during the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

A total of 78 Jewish and 91 Beduin teens from Beersheba, Rahat, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Ofakim participated in the study.

They were tested for the level of personal and communal resources they had and how much these helped them cope with the crisis. The youth were also queried on their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general and on the military operation in particular.

The teens were asked about their anxiety, anger and psychological stress. All measures showed that the terror caused more distress among the Beduin than the Jewish teenagers. On a scale of one to four, the Beduin scored 2.45 on their distress level, while the Jews scored 2.27.

The Beduin teens were also more susceptible to physiological symptoms caused by the distress.

The Beduin youth were also found to express more anger over the situation of being exposed to fire than the Jews (2.33 compared to 1.7); this, said the researchers may have been responsible for the Beduin youth’s higher level of symptoms.

The study looked at the level of personal and communal resilience felt by the teens and how that explains the stress felt by the two groups. Personal resilience is measured by the feeling of “coherence” – a scale built on cognitive, emotional and behavior elements in one’s world view and ability to cope with pressure. The more coherence the teens felt, the more moderate their anger, psychological stress and anxiety.

Asked their personal opinions about the military campaign, they were asked to state whether it would help stop the attacks, last for a limited time, solve the problem or lead to discussions with Hamas.

The Jewish youth were more likely to say the campaign would help for a limited time, while the Beduin teens tended to believe that it would not alleviate the problem with Gaza either on the short or long term.

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