'Azzun 'Atma, Wed 1.4.09, Morning
The interesting incidents on this shift occurred after it ended.
We left for ‘Azzun ‘Atma before dawn, and then drove to Za’tara and Huwwara. The sun shown at all the checkpoints, the spring foliage and flowers were lovely, and the checkpoints were - checkpoints. Today there was a collection of soldiers dying to know what our problem was, why we come to interfere when they’re protecting the country. At each checkpoint there was a tall soldier with lovely eyes dying to tell us how left-wing and humane he is, and how he walks along the line of waiting cars asking the passengers in each of them how they’re doing. There was a soldier at every checkpoint who hadn’t heard about the occupation, and it was obvious that they had to be inspected when they came from Nablus directly into Israel. We had no one to rescue. No one had been jailed. There was no yelling, no cursing. The female soldiers weren’t even singing noisily today over the loudspeakers.
We drove to the village. We drove slowly, with the windows open, and like Il Duce waved to the amazed people watching unarmed Israelis. We recalled that the soldier said that asking people how they were was a humane thing to do. So we asked everyone we met going through the village how they were. The bakery was closed. We asked where the second bakery was, and a youth showed us the way. We walked there. On our way we saw through a gate in the wall around one of the houses a woman carrying a tray with bread that had just been baked in a tabun. Why do we need a bakery when the woman had just finished baking and was dying to share with us. We asked if we could come in: a large courtyard, surrounded by four buildings, pens holding goats and sheep. Something’s growing in every corner, parsley and scallions for the residents, hashish for the animals. No, they reassured us: the hashish is for fodder.
Our prayers were answered. The tea was accompanied by pitas and olive oil and za’atar, and we sat, two Israeli women who dropped down on them out of the blue and a woman about 70 years old, her divorced daughter who was about 40, her two daughters-in-law, the son and a million grandchildren. The divorced daughter was forming cheese into cubes on a metal tray, which are then salted and eaten with meals, or sweetened for cheese that will be made into knafe.
We sadly left the home and the village, returning to the soldiers at the checkpoints who were guarding the country.
At 11:00 we picked up Hasib’s deaf three year old son to take him to be examined at Tel HaShomer hospital by a professor specializing in treating deafness.
I asked the boy’s mother not to come. The traditional headscarf she wears causes problems at the checkpoint entering Israel. She came anyway. The father hadn’t received an entry permit. Only the uncle had . You can’t send a deaf three year old child to the hospital accompanied only by an uncle.
At the Cross-Samaria checkpoint (that’s the name of the entry checkpoint to Israel on Route 5, Cross-Samaria, and in military lingo, CROSAM) we were stopped and told we couldn’t go through there. I told them that last week, when I transported patients, I was told that those whose appointments were the same day could go through there. If the referral is a general one, and their permit is, for example, valid for a month, the have to enter through the Qalqilya checkpoint. Of course I argued. They took the ID cards and asked us to move back. It was already 11:40. The appointment was for 12. I called the humanitarian office, the DCO and Daliah’s office. They all said that rules are rules. You can’t go through there. It’s not a question of danger, or of security. It’s an issue of rules, which must be obeyed. We had to make the detour. The soldier explained that he’s very humane (they were all humane today) but orders are orders. Don’t you have any discretion as a commanding officer? I’m already here. What difference does it make you if I take the shorter route to the hospital? I don’t care, he says. But if I do something that’s really illegal my soldiers will complain and I’ll be screwed. He doesn’t want to think that it could have been his younger brother, or his new nephew. At noon I gave up and decided to go back. I hope the professor doesn’t go home before we arrive. I finally felt like the Palestinian woman who’s told “Irga la’aura” (go back).
To go through Qalqilya means driving back east toward Ariel. Turn north toward Emanuel and Qedumim. Drive on a lovely, steep road through the area that the uncle says is called Biq’at Qana, reach Rout 55 next to Funduk and again turn west toward Qalqilya. When headache. Wujaras is Arabic? He’s amazed. Really? I thought it was a Yiddish word. we were already only a 20 minute ride from Tel HaShomer hospital we went through the Qalqilya checkpoint without even being stopped for inspection. We reached the professor for the deaf at 14:00, just before he was about the close the clinic. He was glad there was a translator. Tell mother that the examination doesn’t hurt. How do you say “hurt” in Arabic? Waja, I told him. Pain is waja. Like we say wujaras, a headache. Wujaras is Arabic? He’s amazed. Really? I thought it was a Yiddish word.