Meanwhile in Palestine: On the Politics of Life and Death

A Palestinian cancer patient at an Israeli military checkpoint. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Tamar Fleishman

As I was standing at the Qalandia military checkpoint, I saw a Red Crescent ambulance, which was parked at the designated spot, waiting for its Palestinian counterpart.

The paramedic, whom I’ve known for years, told me that they were waiting for a Palestinian cancer patient arriving from Ramallah, to bring her to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.

He also told me that the worst military checkpoint is Tarqumieh and that he doesn’t like to work there, because even dead bodies have to go through metal detectors. It is usually Gazans who did not survive their treatment in the Hebron hospital and are sent to be buried at home, in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Since that conversation, I cannot stop thinking about the person escorting the body, quietly mourning, as he has to witness this humiliating procedure.

The paramedic’s words were still echoing in my head when the ambulance from Ramallah finally arrived. The woman was connected to an oxygen tank. The medical team said that she suffers from breast cancer. She was accompanied by her teenage daughter and her son.

The latter didn’t acquire the necessary permit to accompany his ill mother. If he insisted, he could be caught at the hospital and arrested.

The procedure was halted. The Palestinian patient remained on her stretcher, while her children were sitting next to her in the ambulance. 

It took a while for the Israeli soldiers to release the necessary permit to the woman’s son.

Then, the woman and her children had to move to the other ambulance and could finally head to the Augusta Victoria hospital.

I was happy for them, but the information I learned about the Tarqumieh checkpoint still resonates in my mind. 

(Translated by Tal Haran)

(Edited by Romana Rubeo)

– As a member of Machsomwatch, Tamar Fleishman documents events at Israeli military checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Her reports, photos and videos can be found on the organization’s website: She is also a member of the ‘Coalition of Women for Peace’ and a volunteer in ‘Breaking the Silence’. Tamar Fleishman is The Palestine Chronicle correspondent at the Qalandiya checkpoint.


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