Qalandiya, Sun 3.11.13, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
One person’s experience reflects what all endure. We can infer the rationale guiding this enterprise from the web of physical and mental torture the occupiers impose on the weakest of those subjected to it, an enterprise that for over a generation has grown ever more sophisticated and has become an all-encompassing, multi-limbed monster.
The people running the occupation believe that it’s best for someone who must go to one of the Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem to notify them in advance of their plans to fall ill or be injured. That’s the only way they’ll have a chance to submit a request in time, receive a reply and possess the piece of paper known as a “certificate” indicating the required coordination has been accomplished – in other words, the Shabak has granted permission.
But the 21 year old man from Nablus, whose condition the medical team described as “critical; he’s intubated, he has leukemia,” hadn’t notified the authorities that his condition would become more serious and hadn’t obtained the permits in advance.
The ambulance transporting him waited at the entrance to the checkpoint, time passed, and after a lengthy delay it was ordered back: “Nothing has been coordinated,” said the soldiers. But it had been. (A person familiar with the operation of the ambulance crossing at the Qalandiya checkpoint knows that an ambulance doesn’t begin its journey unless all the necessary permits have been received). More phone calls, ten more unnecessary minutes, critical minutes perhaps (in addition to the forty minute trip from Nablus to Qalandiya), and then the approval was approved, the procedure proceeded, the patient was shifted from one stretcher to another, cried out in pain, the ambulance sirened its way to the hospital. The urgent haste to reach the hospital in order to save the patient’s ebbing life, which was apparent to everyone there, wasn’t clear to those implementing the procedures and the directives. They have their own priorities and order of precedence.
And while that was happening, at the same time a 16 year old youth with a back injury was transferred from a Palestinian to a Jerusalem ambulance: The two ambulances, the two medical teams and the injured youth had already arrived at the two sides of the checkpoint at 1 PM. Every one of the youth’s movements, each bump in the road increased his suffering. But unexpectedly (very unexpectedly), the soldiers claimed the youth had been blacklisted by the Shabak. The two ambulances turned around, the youth taken back to Ramallah and, said one of the drivers, “they began to work on cancelling the blacklisting.”
And only when the blacklisting had been cancelled and, according to the hidden/secret agents, the youth was, miraculously, no longer a security danger, and it was already 5:15 in the afternoon, the two ambulances met once more. He was transferred from the first to the second, which then drove to the hospital.
And if someone wonders how this miracle occurs, that a Shabak blacklisting is cancelled in four hours – I have an explanation, a gut feeling based on many years of experience. But it’s no more valid than any other explanation.
On the main road to the Qalandiya checkpoint Border Police soldiers caught two young men looking for work. “In Israel illegally” – that’s what they call those who struggle to survive and earn their daily bread.