It is exactly one year ago today that Israel launched its three week offensive against Gaza.
The people in the coastal territory paid a high price. Large areas of the enclave still lie in rubble.
The toll on the population’s mental health was also heavy. Many remain traumatised, needing help to come to terms with what happened.
Mona Al Sammoni, 11, lost her parents and a sibling in the conflict. She said:
‘‘We felt better after we came to the centre because we started to express our feelings, singing about what we feel, talking about the war and drawing so we are able to express ourselves.’‘
Israel says it launched operation ‘Cast Lead’ to stop Hamas militants firing rockets at its towns.
By the time a de facto ceasefire had taken effect, some 1,400 Gazans had been killed, including hundreds of civilians and children. A total of 13 Israelis, mostly soldiers, also died.
However, many living next to the Gaza border are still haunted by Hamas’ missiles.
Rotem Amar, a 16-year-old Israeli from Sderot, said: ‘‘The whole situation makes you think constantly about the possibility that you are going to die and it is hard. Why does a girl my age need to think about how she is going to die? Instead she should be thinking that she has her whole life ahead of her to build a career or start a family. I just want to do what regular people are doing. That is the hardest thing for me.’‘
Up until now, fighting between both sides has been relatively quiet. But Israel continues to blockade Gaza and the calm remains fragile with the potential for another outbreak of violence ever present.