Daniela Yoel, Tamar Fleishman

Translator: Charles K.


Burdens of pain

I know the first thing a person wants to do after being released from hospital is to crawl into bed. To rest. To recover.

But according to the logic of occupation, someone from Gaza treated in a West Bank hospital isn’t an ordinary person.

The double-amputee released this morning from a Ramallah hospital after treatment for a kidney disease sat waiting patiently for his uncle to come to the DCO office and perhaps obtain the permit to allow him to return home that same day.

Because patience, like submissiveness and self-restraint are survival resources for Palestinians, especially those from Gaza.

And it took two Jewish women who just happened to be there that day, at that hour, and didn’t stop telephoning to everyone they could think of, and an hour passed, and another half-hour, before his uncle was admitted to the office and obtained the necessary permits. Then more phone calls and someone in uniform arrived to help, opened the gate for carts.


The man and his uncle were accompanied by Yusuf, a child who’d also been released this morning from the Ramallah hospital. Although Yusuf, sitting on his father’s shoulders, is thirteen, he’s the size of a four year old. His father, pushing the wheelchair, is lugging parcels – because, before returning home, residents of Gaza, who are used to scarcity, load up with goods bought in the West Bank which are unavailable in their besieged city.


Yusuf sat silently, on his father’s shoulders. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t speak. But from time to time his broad forehead furrowed, twinged in pain.


After their tribulations had ended and the three of them. passed through the checkpoint, and we parted, and they moved toward the taxi that had been awaiting them for hours, we felt a bitter satisfaction. Because we know that it’s disgraceful to improve conditions at this terrible place; I’m here to expose its shame, and ours, to keep my distance, not make it worse for the victims. But there are breaking points. Sick people, particularly those from Gaza, make me violate the principle of not intervening.


It’s important to look at the photograph of this man and this boy and realize they’re just two among hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of people on whom the bureaucracy of occupation imposes burdens of pain over and above the suffering fate has decreed.