When a critically-ill heart patient from Bir Zeit is brought to St. Joseph Hospital in Jerusalem the shortest or fastest route doesn’t go through the Qalandiya checkpoint.
But according to the rules of the occupation, via Qalandiya is the only way the woman can reach the hospital to which she’s being rushed, perhaps conscious, perhaps not – that is, if she survives the long wait at the checkpoint entrance because of a false claim of “no advance coordination” and the rough handling when she’s transferred from one stretcher to another and from one ambulance to another.
Recently, as I waited with medical staff meeting ambulances, they said: “We’re trying to save lives and they (the soldiers) are busy shortening them.” And reported that ambulance inspection at Tarqumiyya sometimes includes a dog going inside, which endangers patients because dogs carry many germs.
When I went through the checkpoint to the Jerusalem side the soldiers couldn’t understand what I was doing there, where I came from, where I was going.
And I, who know I have a legal right to be here, have no interest in explaining or justifying anything, simply show them an identifying document.
“Go through the red door,” the soldier ordered. “We have to find out.”
I entered. I found myself penned in a sort of concrete room one meter square, or perhaps a few centimeters larger, one of whose walls, facing the soldiers’ emplacement, is made of bulletproof glass, like the glass behind which the prime minister stood a few hours later when he spoke in the square, only smaller and filthier.
I passed the time looking through the window at the soldier’s computer screen.
Photos and details of individuals appeared on the screen one after the other. A man, a man, a woman, a large photo and lines of text. And then it was a young woman’s turn and below her picture appeared a line of bright red text. “Blacklisted,” said the soldier, “go back.” And it didn’t help when the woman said she wasn’t and that her permit is new. “Back.”
I remained trapped a few minutes more until a policeman entered the soldiers’ emplacement, looked through the armored glass and said, “She, she can go to hell!”
I went. But elsewhere.
Three soldiers manned the roadblock on Highway 65, about 300 meters before the Adam settlement, stopping and inspecting Palestinian vehicles. I wasn’t able to find out what they were checking. I stood across the road and watched a group of Border Police soldiers come down to me from a hill near the guard tower, and an officer, Yusuf Nasser al-Din, told me to leave because: this place is dangerous; we have information, some of it public, some of it confidential…
He neither wanted nor was able to hear what I had to say, he told me he’s authorized to not listen, and added that a discussion between us could only take place in court after the patrol car he summons will take me to jail.
Yusuf Nasser al-Din moved back a few steps, telephoned, said something, listened and then called his colleagues, they all got into a vehicle and drove off.
A few minutes later I also drove off and only three soldiers remained on the road who continued to stop Palestinian vehicles and harass the drivers.