Translating: Ruth Fleishman
The Palestinian person enters the world and exits it without any rights. The rules of occupation don't grant him the right for privacy in health or in sickness. Moreover, a dying person doesn't have the right for basic hygiene when his body's immune system is at its lowest.
Only due to her being a Palestinian cancer patient (from Nablus) who was returning from treatment at Augusta Victoria hospital, she was transported while exposed to the dust, the filth and the blazing sun above the parking lot.
When the paramedic told me about her condition, in spite my witnessing hundreds of similar incidents of women, men, children and babies, who had all been moved from one ambulance to another at that site, what came out of my mouth was: "wow", and the paramedic nodded.
The only testimony to the events of the Nakba day were the colour stains on the tower from which the teenagers were shot at with stun and gas grenades. In response they took out their rage on it.
To the parking lot on the Jerusalem side of the checkpoint arrived an armored vehicle of the border police, six Palestinian lads were taken off it and expelled into Palestine. The six who worked in Jerusalem without a permit from the GSS, were hunted down in the morning and were then detained for the entire day until their expulsion.
Two stray dogs were resting between the two checkpoint posts.
Once again the checkpoint hadn't been active during the entire day. The soldiers man it only on occasions, during the rest of the hours they stay in the pillbox. They came down on my behalf. They warned me it was dangerous to stand there and proceeded to argue that I was breaking the law because the checkpoint was in A territory. I suggested that we take a look at the map. To my surprise, for the first time in the years this ritual has been taking place, the checkpoint commander agreed, I took the map out and the commander together with the soldier that escorted him, learned that it wasn't territory A.
I left them work out the rest for themselves.
When we reached Qalandiya at 4 PM we saw an Israeli ambulance waiting on the Jerusalem side of the CP. Natanya went to see what was happening and discovered that the two personnel were waiting to drive some people from Gaza to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. While Natanya was talking to the driver (who spoke only Hebrew and no Arabic), they were approached by a middle-aged woman accompanied by a small girl. The woman told Natanya in Arabic that she and her granddaughter were waiting to be taken to Ichilov, which solved the question of how to connect the ambulance and the passengers. The little girl, who has a problem with the veins in her feet, was very frightened – especially of doctors – and the ambulance team bent over backwards to be nice and friendly. We went on our way, but kept an eye on the ambulance which stayed at the CP for another half an hour. It turned out that they were arranging a permit for the grandmother and her little girl so that they would be able to return to Gaza directly from Tel Aviv, without detouring via Jerusalem. Then they left.
As for the CP, it was quiet with very few people present. It was also terribly dirty and repulsive. The usual. Nothing to report.
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
A young woman from Nablus was being taken from an occupied territories ambulance to a Jerusalem ambulance while carrying in her arms her month old baby, who was born with heart disease. They were headed to Makased hospital where the baby would receive treatment and perhaps be operated on.
A female soldier holding a long rifle ordered the driver of the ambulance to open the woman's bag and present it before her, so that she could make sure that there were no suspicious substances or bombs in it.
A security man was also there (from the Civil Security Company), a gun was in his holster and he was guarding the soldier with the long rifle. He was angry with us and especially with the camera and called the police.
The ambulances had already left when the police arrived and demanded that we step away. We didn't.
- "You are detained for insubordination to a police officer, accompany us",
They said and took us to the police station inside the checkpoint.
We were detained for 45 minutes.
But we aren't Palestinians and that makes all the difference:
Dov, the police officer, consulted with his superiors regarding our case, when he returned he filled three detainment forms, one for each of us, just like the forms they used to make the Palestinians sign when detained at the notorious Ar-Ram checkpoint.
Dov made us sign it. We didn't get a copy. He said that only a lawyer could request and receive a copy.
Gabi Laski and the people in her office, who were informed the moment we were detained and were supportive of us, had already filed the request for a copy.
If the security man files a complaint against us (officer Dov explained), an inquiry would open and perhaps there would also be a trial, and we too have the right to complain about the security guard and then an inquiry regarding him would open.
I, and I speak only for myself, will not file a complaint regarding their behavior, because it is my opinion that I am/ we are not the center of the narrative of the occupation.
Once we were released from our forced delay at the police station, we crossed to the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. The air was filled with tear gas fumes and remaining of car tires were still burning by the wall - a testimony to what occurred between the checkpoint and the refugee camp while we were detained.
And on the main road heading west was a convoy of vehicles honking their horns and in them were men cheering and waving flags from the open windows: "my uncle was released from prison!" yelled one of them.
We arrived at Qalandiya at 15:45. There was a small line in Passageway 1. All the other passageways were empty, but we noticed that 2 soldiers were sitting in the aquarium at 4-5. We stationed ourselves near the turnstile and the soldiers immediately let us in. We asked them to announce that their passageway was also open and they did so even before we finished asking. The male soldier was very friendly, but his female counterpart had a problem with our presence. She couldn’t understand how we had arrived from the Palestinian side of the CP and repeatedly said that she was responsible for our safety. We gave a short lecture on MW and continued on our way.
A bit later we saw a woman pushing an invalid in a wheel chair. Instead of dealing with the turnstiles and locked gates inside the CP, she used the roadway to Ramallah and went straight through the vehicle CP – a much simpler route. The soldiers and security personnel in the CP didn’t try to prevent her from crossing (as they have in the past).
At about 4 PM, an ambulance arrived from Ramallah and drove straight into the CP. He waited there for about 20 minutes in the summer heat, but no ambulance arrived from Jerusalem. The soldiers told him that he must continue waiting outside the CP in the northern square. And just as he finished parking in the square, two ambulances arrived from Jerusalem and another one arrived from the north. One of the Jerusalem ambulances drove through the CP and parked in the parking lot. This was a bit confusing, but in the end it turned out that there are new procedures in place and ambulances returning patients released from hospitals in Jerusalem to the PA are allowed to execute the transfer on the Palestinian side. But ambulances bringing patients for treatment in Jerusalem must make the exchange on the Jerusalem side.
At 4:45 we noticed a Palestinian woman waiting in the DCO Passageway. It turned out that her sister was waiting in the DCO shed but was not being taken care of. We phoned Alon, the DCO representative, who had already left Qalandiya. He promised to phone the DCO office and tell the soldiers to take care of the woman and another man waiting with her. And he kept his promise – within 2 minutes the two were called into the office. We left before we found out what happened.
Translation: Ruth Fleishman
Being a healthy Palestinian is hard. It's much harder to be an ill Palestinian.
A man from Tul Karem, while in deep agony, was taken from one stretcher to the other, from the Jerusalem ambulance to the West Bank ambulance which would take him back home.
The paramedic said that he had a complicated fracture in his thigh, that Makased hospital, where he was admitted, had decided to send him home and that in a month's time and after assessments of the odds and risks, it would be decided whether to operate.
It took two hours for the ambulance to arrive from Tulkarm at Qalandiya, now this man would have to go through a two hour drive until reaching home. In one month he will once again go to Jerusalem, this time to hear what the doctors had decided, another two hour drive, again being moved from one stretcher to the other, from one ambulance to another.
Being a healthy Palestinian is hard. It's much harder to be an ill Palestinian.
And in the meanwhile, a young Palestinian lad caught in Jerusalem without a GSS permit was brought to the police station. The hunters called for a police vehicle and once it arrived the lad was place in it and they drove away.
On the same topic: Ayman, the coffee stand owner on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, had begun to serve a sentence of five months imprisonment. Two years ago he was caught working at Mahne-Yehuda market with a fake ID.
The shift change at the soldiers' inspection post caused everything to freeze over for several long minutes:
At first the soldiers who finished their shift took off their bulletproof vests, then the new soldiers put the vests on, they sipped some Coca-Cola, moved the chairs around, conversed among themselves in peace, as though the tens of people waiting on the other side of the windows and walls didn't exist.
And the intercom system that is supposed to be used as means of communication between the Palestinians and the soldiers has been out of service for years.
Omer, the guard at the top popped out his head from the window in the tower and started cursing us, and the three soldiers manning the post below said it would be a while till be could say "good riddance" to him.
The checkpoint commander and his two soldiers said that they were saving the lives of the Jews that might by mistake drive on to Qalandiya or Ramallah, and that: "it is very dangerous here(at the checkpoint), a couple of weeks ago a suspicious package was found here".
They weren't there when the package was found. They were told about it.
This was a morning when during the early hours only 800 workers went through and it really did not take long (about 15-20 minutes) to go through the checkpoint
To be reminded again of how life with checkpoints is conducted and lived through we went to Anata checkpoint and took a walk through the neighbourhood. The traffic and the state of the streets for the taxpaying citizens are so bad that there is no chance that an ambulance could deliver patients to the checkpoint to meet the painfully slowly checked ambulance that comes to meet the one ambulance there is.
Qalandiya checkpoint was desolate but the few who wished to pass had to wait for a while until the solider obliged them by opening the turnstiles. At the cabin where the soldiers that are in charge of opening the turnstiles leading to the checkpoint sit, was a soldier who didn't take his eyes off the book he was reading in order to see what was going on in the lanes beside him or on the security cameras.
A Red Crescent ambulance arrived at the checkpoint. The patient that was being transferred was in need ofcatheterizationand was place inside the Israeli ambulance in the "back-to-back" method.
At the checkpoint we met two lads, one of them said that he had been released from prison a month earlier after serving a sentence of six years. He was 15 when he was arrested for throwing stones, he was told that the stone he had thrown hit someone. He said that he had managed to see inside of many Israeli jails during the time his time in prison.
During the past two month the checkpoint hadn't been constantly manned, the soldiers remained seated in the pillbox on the by the side of the road. This week however, when we arrived at the checkpoint we found a traffic police man from Binyamin station manning the soldiers' post and with him was a soldier securing him. The two pulled over cars that drove on road 60 on the way heading to Ramallah. They inspected licenses, IDs, handed out tickets and enriched the state's coffer.
Upon arriving we were greeted a barking wondering dog, but it wasn't long until two soldiers got out of the fortified complex and came towards us. They said that everything was as usual at the checkpoint and hurried to turne around and head back to the building.
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
After an hour's drive and half an hour of waiting at the entrance to the checkpoint, a baby of two months with heart disease was transferred from a Palestinian emergency kit to a Jerusalem one. Exposer to the dust, the heavy heat and the air that was polluted by gas fumes from the skunk, couldn't have been good for the baby, but it was all preformed according to regulations and in the name of security.
The ambulance that arrived from Jerusalem transferred the baby and his father, who was standing the whole time with his jaw clenched and only his shaking chine giving evidence to the stifled cry, to Mokased hospital, where (the medical crew explained) they would examine and asses the baby's condition and decide whether or not to perform the operation necessary to fix the child's heart at there or send him off to the experts at Shiva hospital.
Friends from the checkpoint's surroundings told me about the demonstration that was held on the anniversary of the Land Day on the previous day. They said that even though it was a quiet demonstration the army responded with violence, by shooting and spraying skunk water.
And although it had been over a day since the events, most of the skunk's fluids had remained at the vicinity of the wall so that approaching it in order to photograph the new inscription that said: "Stop Cementing Misery" could turn your insides out.
There are no strangers to the name of the hunger striker, Samer Issawi. Upon hearing his name mentioned people nodded their heads with sadness and empathy to his fate, they heard with sparkling eyes and a smile about the Israeli women who were attempting to visit the starving prisoner.
When I told a friend from the refugee camp that I would attempt to visit Samer Issawi, he said: "Even if they release him, his body is probably not alive anymore".
-"Perhaps the body isn't, but what about the soul?" I asked.
-"You are right", he agreed.
Atara/ Bir Zeit checkpoint:
The soldiers remained hidden at the top of the tower, only the face of a curious soldier peeked and disappeared into the darkness of the post, and kept peeking each time the camera was raised.
The Palestinians that passed by waved from behind the window shields. Stopping the car would be a bad idea so they didn't dare do that. Only one driver slowed down little, opened the window and shouted: "Come back on another day, not today!"- "When?", we asked, "On Thursday!" he replied and drove off without explaining.
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
Unconscious, inside an intensive care kit, a baby of four hours arrived at the checkpoint with a Red Crescent ambulance. The medical crew that moved him into the Red Cross ambulance said that he was being taken to Mukased hospital for emergent hart surgery.
The baby was taken from his mother the moment he was born, and she, who had yet to heal from the birth, didn't escort him. It was probably his grandmother who in sadness and fear sat in the ambulance.
When every passing minute, when any minute might seal the baby's fate to life or death, can such hate crimes still be excused with the coin phrased euphemism "proportionally"? – The source of his word is a high court verdict from years ago, and it had since not been checked and updated as it is set in stone. And even though agreements between the Palestinian Authority and the Red Star of David (also from year ago) state that in emergent incidents ambulances from the West Bank would be permitted to pass and arrive at hospitals in east Jerusalem, this has been prevented arbitrarily and while forsaking and endangering the lives of others.
In the meanwhile, two other ambulances passed, and inside one of them was a person injured in a car accident who received primary treatment in Ramallah and was in need of additional treatment which the hospitals at the West Bank could provide for him, due to their lack of advance equipment.
And during those afternoon hours, in the vicinity and separately, three teams of BP officers were hunting down humans who had dared to cross without an official permit signed by the authorities: they arrested laborers returning from a day of work, compered their names on their IDs with the ones on their "Tasrih", made sure that it was still valid, pulled over vehicles, inspected busses and came out with a respectable loot in the form of (only) one, not young, man who was placed inside a police car and taken away. "They are probably taking him to the Kalabush", said a lad passing by.
Atara/ Bir Zeit
A new unit flag was hanging from the top of the tower. By it, in the middle of the road, stood the soldiers of the new unit, they were full of faith and motivation, they pulled over vehicles, checked the identity of the drivers, inspected the trunks, exposed merchandise that was being transferred on trucks and vans, and mainly disturbed the traffic at the time when people were making their way back home.
When asked what they were doing, the commander replied: "routine inspection of cars" and explained: "they (the Palestinians) transport all sort of things in their cars".
We arrived at Qalandiya CP at 3:50 PM. Two passageways were active as well as the DCO passage, there were no lines.
An ambulance drove up to the CP from the direction of Ramallah and parked in the northern square because the traffic didn't allow the driver to get closer to the CP. We saw a Jerusalem ambulance waiting for him at the other side of the CP, so we went and directed traffic to clear a path for the Ramallah ambulance to enter the CP where he was told to wait by the security personnel. We positioned ourselves close to the fence to see what was happening and one of the security personnel began to shout at us to move away from the fence. When we didn't move, he came over to see who we were. We told him that we were checking to see how much time it took for the ambulance to get through the CP. The fellow turned around and returned to the ambulance, sending it on its way immediately.
At about 4:30 PM Natanya saw that a long line had developed in one of the passageways while the soldiers in the second passageway were sitting idle. She phoned the hotline and was answered by Meital who quickly solved the problem.
On our way back to Jerusalem at 5 PM we saw that the "cubicles" usually occupied by soldiers at the Jabba/Lil CP were both of them empty. We asked three little Bedouin kids who were shepherding their sheep nearby where the soldiers were and they pointed at the watchtower beyond the CP. We saw no soldiers. The children looked very sad and suspicious. We called them over to come and get some candy from Natanya's store of goodies and the oldest approached reluctantly. Only when his hands were full of sweets for himself and his brothers did a huge grin break out on his face.