Ninety-two percent of Palestinians suffer from depression-related anxiety, caused by despair over violence between Hamas and Fatah gunmen and the apparent demise of the Palestinian unity government, according to a poll published by the Washington Times on Monday morning.
Jamil Rabah, the director of Ramallah-based Near East Consulting, polled 801 Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem for the latest survey, which has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.
The poll was taken last month, following a deadly flare-up between Hamas and Fatah gunmen that left dozens dead in Gaza and laid bare a dysfunctional unity government. The unrest cuts across region, political affiliation and social class, according to the poll findings.
"The higher the level of depression, or discontent, the higher this score comes out, the higher the social fragmentation of society," Rabah told the Washington Times.
The data constitute a jump of 15 percent compared with a poll conducted in October and more than double the level from November 2005.
"We've never (before) been a society where we've had any type of significant internal struggles," said Cairo Arafat, a psychologist and an official in the Palestinian Planning Ministry.
"Internal violence with the continuing levels of poverty and unemployment was a significant marker for many people that the situation was deteriorating further."
"There's a high level of frustration. It's getting dangerous. There isn't any value to life," said Ibrahim Habib, field-work coordinator for the Israeli chapter of Physicians for Human Rights. "A lot of people feel the (Palestinian) Authority is irrelevant."
The survey also revealed that although Palestinians realize the current Hamas-Fatah government is a failure, there's little confidence that a new election will produce a more stable result.