Although much has been made of the physical damage that remains unaddressed, equally important are the less tangible impacts of the prevailing humanitarian situation. In the aftermath of the war, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 25,000 to 50,000 people – including some 14,000 to 28,000 children – were in need of some form of psychological intervention to address the longer-term psychological effects that had resulted from the hostilities. WHO noted that:
The loss of care and protection of parents or primary caregivers, disruptions to daily life including school and play activities, and loss of adequate nutrition [meant] that children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to psychosocial distress.
A key sector to consider in this regard is education. Education is not only a basic human right, one that cannot be postponed or neglected during conflict or emergency, but also has a key role to play in protecting and sustaining the lives of children and young people. This is particularly true in the occupied Palestinian territory where generations have grown up living under military occupation, conflict and political instability. In the context of their ongoing statelessness, historic displacement and continued threat of forced displacement, education has a key role to play in equipping children and youth with the tools to succeed and to make positive contributions to a future Palestinian state. While data on the physical impacts of the military operations on the education system exist, less is known about the psychosocial impacts, and in particular how the psychosocial situation has affected access to and quality of the education sector, a sector vital to the recovery and rehabilitation of Gaza.