Qalandiya, Sun 6.12.09, Afternoon
The temperature at Qalandiya checkpoint during the winter is much lower than what the thermometer might indicate and darkness falls early and it is pitch dark.
"He is in a critical state, he has heart surgery tomorrow", said the medical crew waiting at the parking lot for the arrival of an ambulance from other side that would take the baby to Mokased Hospital at East Jerusalem, where they would try to save him.
The medical crew wasn't made of young people; they had years of experience in that job. Their concern and anxiety reflected just how much danger that baby's life was in: a baby of four months with a heart defect that any moment might escalate; every minute that passed and prolonged his arrival at hospital where he would receive professional attendance, placed his life under danger.
But the regulations according to which the ambulance passage is approved, the transference of the patient form one ambulance to the other and the severe inspection preformed on all those who accompanied the baby, including their documents, IDs and bags - all detained the baby and his mother, causing them to wait 40 minutes at the checkpoint, until the Red Crescent ambulance received permission to head off with the "baggage" who's life was hanging by a thread.
The Ambulance driver even tried sweet talking the police officer that stood next to him. But there was no use. The officer's heart remained shut and he explained that he wasn't one of the commanders at the checkpoint and that he was there on a different case all together. And indeed, he and his colleagues and their vehicles, like a group of BP soldiers, managed to cause a provocation that ended with a stone being thrown by a child at the refugee camp- or as a Palestinian said to us: "Even when the children don't throw stones, they (the police officers) make sure that they (the children) will".
The detaining soldier, the one that insisted on inspecting each document and lingeringly checked the mother's bag before allowing her to join her son and sit by his side, approach to speak to us and made a comparison between the injustice cause to the sick baby and the children that were throwing the stones: "The fact that they throw stones at us and endanger our live that's just fine, is it?"
- - Perhaps her approaching us was because she found it somewhat heart braking?
- - Why is it that the whole time I kept hearing a line from a Biloim song that says: "At Ramalla city a baby died before being born..."?
On the other side of the checkpoint, the Palestinian side, we met N who was walking about restlessly between the waiting shed and the parking lot with his elderly mother walking behind him. But N needed his rest according to the doctors: twelve days before he went through heart surgery at Nablus, and was discharged on that day; he was heading back home- to Gaza. When he, his mother and the taxi driver they rented, passed the checkpoint, the inspectors decided that as they were carrying with them a large amount of baggage, then they probably meant to trade their merchandise and so they confiscated it.
N, a forty year old man, exposed his chest before us; it was covered with bandages, to prove to us he was telling the truth. He wasn't going to waive what was his, especially since he had the CD with his x-ray photos in one of those packages, together with instructions for the doctors at Gaza for the follow up treatment.
We made many phone calls to the authorities and received just a few returning calls. After a while the authority representative agreed to talk to the actual person of which we were talking about, he was now not only worried he might lose his belongings but also that he might not make it on time to Erez checkpoint, to top it all his elderly mother sat on the ground and started wailing and mumbling something we couldn't understand while her son rebuked her and told her to keep quite. An hour later we reached a compromise with the army: The man and his mother would get back home and the army promised to send their baggage with their driver.
On Monday morning the taxi driver was given all the baggage, not before he paid the tax (on what?). N paid him back and also gave him money for the tip to Gaza and back to Qalandiya.