Gaza in the Eyes of COVID is a project implemented by Pal-Think for Strategic Studies based in Gaza, Palestine and funded by ATLAS Network. Pal-Think launches a radio program within the activities of the project. The program consists of 10 episodes each shedding spotlight on a certain topic pertaining to how the virus shapes a new era in the Strip and what the consequences of the virus are on the lifestyle of Gaza people and on economic, social, organizational and cultural aspects.
Dr Bassam Saed, specialized in family affairs, joined, by phone, the first radio episode of the program. He opened the episode and said generally, all societies are subjected to a set of intra-family interactions that lead to a change in family members’ behaviors impacting not only the family itself, but also the whole society.
Saed added that the Palestinian society, in general, did not witness stability since the Nakba in 1948 until this moment. As a result of that, Gaza has been suffering the most and thus the behavior of society members is negatively affected. Due to real life’s deterioration, wide dissemination of social and domestic violence can spread in the Palestinian society.
He also explained that no matter how far the family tries to distance itself from the violence circles and the surrounding societal conditions, it will fail. Moreover, other challenges such as, high population density, blockade, closure and frequent aggressions all put the psychological status of people at the verge of collapse.
Then he stated that COVID-19 pandemic burdened the Palestinian family in the Gaza Strip. And, some new terms were introduced, such as quarantine and bullying on covid-positive-tested individuals. Plus, excessive fear has impelled individuals to act, behave and perform in an unusual way especially in the atmosphere of family. Thus this will increase the violence rate and family disputes. He also indicated that these consequences affect people mental health and mood, which in turn reduce their immunity system.
Dr Saed also pointed out that the expansion of the social segments exposed to domestic violence, from children, women, elderly, and people with disabilities to workers has led to damaging the general socio-psychological state. Therefore, it has disseminated family violence and bullying. Then he mentioned that we can decrease the negative economic outcomes by financially compensating the affected groups from imposing the state of emergency and lockdown.
The family specialist noted that dialogue was the top solution to overcome family disputes. He also added that a culture of tolerance, apology and civilized communication must be exchanged and promoted in problem solving. Thereupon, he emphasized that the guardian of the family must monitor the behavior of the children, guide them and move away from comparing them to their peers and try to be objective with all family members with no favoring one to another.
He also stressed the small size of the houses and their inadequacy to practice activities that can let go children’s negative energy and said that the family should work in accordance with what is available hand in hand to support children with safe spaces for proper learning. With this, children can spend their own time, have fun, and do useful activities.
Dr Bassam also said that it can be optimal that families spend some quality time to tell stories to each other and start conversations on social issues. Plus, saving extra time to taking up various skills and hobbies is beneficial for the health of families.
Dr Bassam recommended that discipline should be maintained at home and household work should be divided among family members. He added that individuals need to commit to distance learning, following up with working remotely to keep on the activity of brain. He believed that this kind of commitment can both lighten individual’s temper and reduce psychological intensity caused by home quarantine.
He further stressed the significance of continuous support offered by local authorities and civil society organizations to raise community awareness in all times and in light of COVID-19 time especially and to invest in human because he is the foundation of civilization.