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‘Gush Katif evacuees more prone to health risks’

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Itongadol.- Almost eight years after Israel’s unilateral evacuation of 8,600 Jewish residents from the Gush Katif Jewish settlements of the Gaza Strip, significantly higher rates of hypertension, ischemic heart disease and type II diabetes have been found among men who resettled with their families inside Israel.
These findings have been reported by three Israeli physicians, Dr. Sody Naimer (who lived and worked as a family doctor in Gush Katif), Dr. Ronen Kory and Dr. Alon Carney. It has been published in the March edition of the lsrael Medical Association Journal (IMAJ).
Titled "Health Ramifications of the Gush Katif Evacuation," the researchers examined the health condition of 2,692 people at Clalit Health Services’ clinic in Gush Katif in 2004 and subsequently in the evacuation town of Nitzan in 2007 and 2010.
Although the evacuated families received government compensation to help them make a new start after August, 2005, their unemployment rate was as high as three times the general figure in Israel, and more illness and even divorce was reported among those required to leave under the disengagement. The authors suggested that personal psychology can affect physical health in addition to undermining psychological well being.
The team compared the health condition of the Gush Katif evacuees with those of a similar group of Israelis of their ages and socioeconomic status who lived inside Israel and were not evacuated against their will.
Gush Katif residents felt that they went from a status of financially independent pioneers in their society to one of dependent and neglected displaced persons, the authors wrote. Men aged 45 to 65 were especially affected, and men of all ages were more affected than the women. Naimer said he and his fellow researchers believe the men’s "breadwinning role" caused them to decline in health more than the women.
Middle-aged men from Gush Katif "should be considered at high risk, and an intensive education program should be initiated to inform the patients of the trends and minimize progression to heart disease. Most of all, a continued effort should be made to pursue the permanent resettlement and re-employment of the Gush Katif community as soon as possible," the doctors urged.

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