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Roni Hammermann, Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Charles K.

An ambulance transporting a resident of Gaza released from hospital in Nablus after a heart operation was delayed for six hours.


The ambulance was forced to wait six hours on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint for someone to solve the bureaucratic tangle.  But it didn’t seem urgent to anyone.  It didn’t occur to anyone on the other end of the gun or the computer or the telephone that there was anything wrong with allowing someone to suffer like that for six hours.  There are procedures and rules and orders and someone who issues them and someone who carries them out and the person on the other side, on the stretcher, isn’t important.


“No one’s coordinated it” they told the ambulance driver.  In other words, what the army means is that the Shabak hasn’t authorized the patient to go through the checkpoint and then home.


And if anyone asks how it’s possible that someone who was checked up and down and front and back only recently and received from the same authorities authorization to leave Gaza, go through the Erez checkpoint, get into an Israeli ambulance, ride to the Qalandiya checkpoint and continue to hospital in Nablus to undergo a lifesaving heart operation and when he’s on his way back, between life and death, and can’t move without assistance, and a physician has been sent by the hospital to accompany him and keep him alive, can suddenly become so great a threat to Israel’s security that he’s prevented from crossing and returning home, the only response is that, when the occupier confronts the occupied, anything’s possible.


And when the problem had been solved, and it turned out there’s no objection, and the man and his relative accompanying him are allowed to go through the checkpoint, they had to part from the physician, because he’s not allowed to go through the checkpoint and continue taking care of the patient during the ride to Gaza.


Maybe because he doesn’t have clearance, maybe because he’s too young, maybe because some relative of his is jailed or a suspect or on trial.


Because they, the Palestinians, have a profile, and the profile determines their fate.


And so, as the hours passed, the patient was transferred from one stretcher to another four times, among three ambulances and went through two checkpoints.


Conduct like this is justified by many pretexts and many excuses and all of them are “by the book.”


And even if the person hadn’t survived the abuse involved in hours of delay at the checkpoint, nobody would have been blamed, just as no one would be blamed if he didn’t survive the trip from Qalandiya to the Erez checkpoint.


And, if the truth be told, this reality is possible only because for those who create and implement the bureaucratic arrangements the “other” isn’t a human being but rather a collection of data that determines how they’re treated and their fate.