BACKGROUND: The dehumanizing aspects of conflict and war are increasingly recognized as serious health and human rights concerns. This paper examines the impact on civilians of the 29 March 2002 Israeli Army invasion and subsequent curfews lasting up to 45 consecutive days, of five West Bank towns. METHODS: Using focus groups, a 10-item scale was devised to measure the effects of the invasion's impact on the social and health-related quality of life. The scale is an aggregate of three constructs measuring housing, financial, and health-related issues. A survey composed of demographic questions and the 10-item social/health scale was administered to a stratified random sample of inhabitants of the five towns. RESULTS: the invasion caused extensive destruction, food and cash shortages, internal displacement of civilians, psychological distress, and serious interruptions of basic services, including crucial health services. Overall, Jenin experienced the most deleterious effects. Using the subscales, Jenin experienced the highest overall housing damage, Bethlehem the most financial difficulties, and Ramallah the most health-related hardships. CONCLUSIONS: civilians inevitably suffer during conflict and war from destruction of the community infrastructure and from personal stress due to disruption of services and the non-fulfilment of basic human needs. In contradistinction to standard damage assessments that focus on collective physical damage, this scale provides richer information on the needs of civilians in conflict-torn areas, and can assist aid workers in the efficient deployment of resources.
1101-1262 (Print)1101-1262 (Linking)
Eur J Public Health
Health Services Accessibility
Quality of Life
Interviews as Topic