The Boy of Qalandiya: He Is Not Idiot, and This Is Not ‘Security’

Mohammad Jaber, 14, was prevented from crossing the Qalandiya checkpoint for treatment. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Tamar Fleishman

As I was standing at the Palestinian side of the Israeli military checkpoint of Qalandiya, I saw a Palestinian teenager walking on crutches. 

His name is Mohammad Jaber. He is a 14-year-old boy who lives in the neighborhood of Shaja’iya, in the besieged Gaza Strip. 

Mohammad was at Qalandiya because he needed to cross the checkpoint to reach the Hadassah Hospital, which is located inside Israel, for treatment.

A Palestinian man, who had spoken with the teenage boy, drew my attention to the problem and asked me if I can be of help. 

The man told me that Mohammad was coming from a Ramallah hospital, to which he had been referred by Hadassah, so that they may run a few tests. Israeli soldiers, however, would not allow him to cross the checkpoint to complete his treatment at Hadassah.

The man thought that maybe there had been some miscommunication, so he asked me to go and talk to the soldiers on the boy’s behalf in Hebrew.

I walked slowly, along with Mohammad. It was clear, from his face, that every step caused him pain. We proceeded to the checkpoint’s ID inspection booth.

When the Israeli security guard saw us, he immediately yelled: “Who are you? If you are Israeli, you are not allowed to be here.”

He seized my ID and summoned the police. A policewoman checked me and said it was okay. Then, they checked Mohammad’s documents and insisted that he could not cross the checkpoint. 

I asked her to look at him: What danger could the boy pose as he could hardly even walk. 

“This is the law”, the guard said with a stern face. “He needs to come back tomorrow, with a special medical permit.”

At that point, there was nothing we could do. 

Then, the Israeli security guard turned towards Mohammad and he yelled in Hebrew: “Go on, git!” – meaning idiot. The boy did not understand, but I did.

I told the guard that no human being should be addressed this way. 

“Go on, you are git, too”, he yelled at me. 

I do not know if Mohammad could obtain the required medical permit to cross the checkpoint the following day. What I know is that clearly, Israel’s concern has nothing to do with ‘security’, as the boy clearly didn’t pose any threat. 

It was something else entirely. 

(Translated by Tal Haran, Edited by The Palestine Chronicle)

– 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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