It’s always the same story, the same callousness that ignores the other’s existence, silences and anonymizes them.
What should be self-evident, that a person released from hospital must return home to rest and recuperate, isn’t self-evident to the occupation authorities, and is therefore not self-evident to their subordinates.
This reality, in which persons who are ill and in pain must wait hours for crossing permits so they can continue home to Gaza, a journey lasting hours that concludes with the torture of the Erez crossing, requires us not only to see them but to mark them well, to recount their stories.
The devil, not god, is in the details.
The details that distinguish between the individual and the mass, the difference between one person and the next, their gestures, their pain, their illness, their wasted hours.
The man released this morning from the Ramallah hospital following an eye operation, helpless, cut off from his surroundings, sitting for three and a half hours at the checkpoint waiting for his wife to return from the DCL offices with a crossing permit.
He sits heavily, self-absorbed, occasionally lifting an arm, bending his head, cradling his forehead in his palm for a few seconds – perhaps to calm himself.
The woman who said her husband has been there for more than two hours, at the entrance to the offices, “He has cancer, very sick, very much tired.” She, who doesn’t know how to address the authorities, sits guarding their bags and suitcases and parcels loaded with goods bought in Ramallah for their family at home in Gaza’s prison.
The man who accompanied his wife, who has heart disease and didn’t want him to leave her even for an instant, she’s not used to being so far from home, her entire body trembling uncontrollably when the female soldier behind the security glass of the inspection booth punished her husband when he accompanied her into the inspection area, yelling “Wahad wahad I said,” making him move back out of his wife’s sight. Only when the soldier was satisfied did she reopen the metal barrier separating the couple.
“They implanted some device to strengthen her heart,” the husband said about the treatment his wife received at the Ramallah hospital.
There were others; I heard the taxi drivers and peddlers talking about them.
But they’d already been swallowed up behind the barriers and congregated around the windows and offices where those who decide their fate were seated.
And it’s always the same story, and they, who are responsible for issuing the permits, reply: “It’s not our fault; the Gaza DCL didn’t arrange for the permit,” as if any of the patients care who’s responsible for the delay, for the torture.