Among Israeli and Palestinian Youth, Hope Is Fading
Survey Finds Wide Doubts About Possibility of Peace

JERUSALEM, JULY 5, 2002 ( A Tel Aviv University survey reveals that 40% of Israeli and Palestinian youth do not believe in peace and do not want a return to negotiations.

The figure is significant, since almost half of the inhabitants of the Palestinian territories are younger than 14, and one-third of the Israeli population are school-age youths.

The survey interviewed 1,197 fifteen-year-olds: 645 Jews of Jerusalem and a few settlements, and 552 Palestinians of the Ramallah and Bethlehem refugee camps.

Since the start of the intifada in 2000, 191 boys under 15 years of age have been killed, while 70% of Palestinian adolescents and 30% of the children of Israeli settlers are suffering from stress linked to the ongoing violence.

Guido Olimpo, correspondent of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in Jerusalem, said told Vatican Radio that the attitude of the Israeli and Palestinian boys is understandable because "hope has died here; peace has died."

"The acts of violence of groups of Palestinians, the Israeli attacks and military operations in the Territories, have put an end to any inkling of confidence," he said. "It is believed that negotiations are a waste of time, and that they arrive at no conclusions whatsoever."

To live in an atmosphere of violence certainly does have repercussion on children, the journalist emphasized.

"There are physical reactions, like trembling and difficulty in sleeping at night, especially among Palestinian children," Olimpo said. "Those who live in refugee camps are subjected to very severe pressure, from incursions, helicopters and tanks. Israeli youth are afraid to leave home, to go on a bus or to a movie because of the risk of attacks."