As a Researcher, I Study the Health of Palestinians. It’s Time to Pay Attention.

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The closed main entrance to the city of Nablus in the West Bank, Oct. 25, 2022. (Credit: Samar Hazboun for The New York Times)

By Yara M. Asi | The New York Times | Dec 29, 2022

The closure of the city at a time of already escalating military and settler violence was an act of violence in and of itself…

This year, during the lead-up to the Israeli elections, I returned to my hometown, Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, to work on a research project and spend time with my family there. I had received a grant to study the impact on Palestinians’ health of Israel’s restrictions on Palestinians’ movement — such as checkpoints, travel permits (including those required for medical care), the separation wall spanning the West Bank and road closures.

My previous work and the existing research done on Palestinian health and well-being gave me a good sense of what I would find: multiple burdens in access to health care and predictably high rates of depression, stress, anxiety and insecurity.

I expected to hear stories of struggle, loss and trauma. And I heard dozens of them, particularly among the young, who feel acute despair.

What I didn’t expect was that my trip would coincide with the deadliest month in the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2006: At least 150 have been killed so far in 2022, including more than two dozen children, almost all as a result of Israeli military violence. Or just how directly I would experience the day-to-day violence that defines the lives of Palestinians.

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