By Tamar Fleishman
Two back-to-back procedures at the same time and at the same place. It was cold. The air was polluted. But the harmful and cruel regulations were more polluted. The victims: two babies.
Two babies with no connection to each other apart for their health condition that required them to be hospitalized in East Jerusalem, and for the fact that they were part of the Palestinian people and as such were declined their basic rights even before coming into the world.
It was impossible to see the babies’ faces. Like tiny bundles each covered in wholly and colorful blankets that reached over their heads, they lied quietly. Not a cry was heard, no movement was made. It was as though they knew their lives or deaths were on the line. Only a bunch of black intractable hair peeped out from one of the blankets.
In less than five minutes two ambulances from the west bank arrived at the entrance to the checkpoint and were ordered to wait.
First to arrive was a ten days baby girl from Qalqilya with respiratory distress that worsen during the trip.
According to the driver, the ride from Qalqilya took an hour and a half, on top of that there was the twenty minute detainment during the examination of the documents, the inspection of the mother’s belongings and the completion of the back-to-back procedure: carrying the baby from the west bank stretcher to the Jerusalem stretcher, getting her inside the ambulance from Jerusalem and heading off to Mukased hospital.
Immediately after the first one, arrived a four months old baby, he was from Gaza and suffered from a kidney disease. This baby was hospitalized in Ramallah and when his illness took a turn for the worse, the medical crew recommended that he be transferred to the better equipped Augusta Victoria.
The ambulance was detained at the entrance to the checkpoint. “No co-ordinations have been made” said the soldiers. At Augusta Victoria (where they were waiting for the child) they said that all the co-ordinations have been made. The soldiers insisted: “No they haven’t”. Augusta Victoria repeated: “Yes they have”.
Time crawled and there was no one to solve the problem.
A guard from the Civil Security Company said: “I might be a combatant but I have a heart”. He tried to help: he spoke to the soldiers, he spoke to the ambulance crew, he walked restless from one side to the other, but there was nothing he could do.
Time crawled, the minutes passed, and the Palestinian medical crew who were accustomed to dealing with occupiers, dared not to speak to the junior military men present or even to the senior ones over the phone, but again and again called the hot line of the ambulance company and Augusta Victoria hospital.
Indeed, a couple of days earlier the baby and his mother made their way from Gaza through the territory of the Israeli state, and crossed Qalandiya checkpoint on their way to the hospital at Ramallah. Indeed, all the necessary bureaucratic requirements had been fulfilled, there was no flaw in their papers and no one suspected the two to pose a threat on the security of the country. And now, in time of distress, the process was to be held all over again: once again request a permit, once again to present evidence and IDs and documents and once again fear the possibility of being declined.
Everything is done in the holy name of oppression and rule over another people and each and every one of its individuals.
It was only after 55 minutes that an officer, who was most likely from the DCO, arrived from out of the blue and suddenly all the necessary co-ordinations were found to be adequate and authorized.
(Translated by Ruth Fleishman.)
– As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: www.machsomwatch.org. The majority of the Spotlights (an opinion page) that are published on the site had been written by her. She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.