It’s no mistake – it’s policy.
A sick child is a sick child.
A child released from hospital after an operation needs rest.
But this, which should be self-evident, doesn’t apply under occupation.
Umar, aged seven, who had been released from hospital a few hours ago after an operation, still under the influence of anaesthesia, collapsed folded up on the metal bench in the shed outside of the DCO office at the Qalandiya checkpoint.
It was very cold at this early evening hour. Umar’s father removed his own leather coat and wrapped his son in it. Umar didn’t even blink an eye. Neither his good eye, nor the one swollen from the operation. He slept. Or maybe he wasn’t asleep; maybe he was unconscious.
His father wandered around restlessly. He still has to enter the office, request a permit, return to Gaza, reach the Erez checkpoint on time, before it closes. Otherwise?... Otherwise, who knows…?
Many people were waiting at the office, with many problems. Problems like his, and others.
And much yelling, and much shoving. And his doubts tore at him, and concern for the sleeping child - having to be near him prevented the father from leaving what should have been his bedside but was only a cold, alienating red bench. And when his name was finally called he wasn’t able to wake Umar to bring him inside as well. He didn’t want to leave him sleeping alone on the bench. He was worried. Who else could take care of the boy? He asked a stranger to arrange for the permit, and gave him Umar’s birth certificate, which was required to obtain it.
A Palestinian child must always be attached to their birth certificate, to their kushan. Not a photocopy, not a copy – the original.
But there’d been a mistake – “It happens; lack of coordination,” said the female soldier.
Yes, mistakes happen, mistakes are liable to occur, but that a seven year old boy after an operation requires a permit to go home – that’s not a mistake; that’s a policy.
And after they rectified the mistake, and after the father managed to wake his son, and after Umar and his father left, the fact remained that a child is still a child, and there’s no other way to describe what occurred except as – a crime.