Nihaya and Suad, who live in Gaza, met at Al-Najah hospital in Nablus where they shared a room while being treated for cancer. Nhaya was accompanied by her sister. No one accompanied Suad. She came by herself. In the hospital the three of them became friends, family. Sisters in illness, sharing their fates. When they were released, with an appointment for the next treatment two weeks later, they rode together to the Qalandiya checkpoint, which is the only way to leave the West Bank and continue to Gaza.
After they’d overcome all the obstacles on the way to the DCL office – the locked metal gates, a lying soldier claiming the office had already closed and in any case they should have gone to the DCL in Ramallah, not here - and managed to arrive on time, and in particular after the DCL office had said [to me], “We treat everyone humanely and considerately…”, when it seemed the hardest part was already behind them, it turned out that it was just beginning. Nhaya and her sister received permits. Suad didn’t.
“You must speak to the Shabak man in Gaza. Come back tomorrow. Now [the time was 4 PM] we’re closing.”
A trace of optimism remained because it’s possible to speak to the Shabak man at the Erez crossing. They telephoned from the shed at the entrance to the checkpoint and spoke to him, who said there wasn’t any problem. Maybe they erred at Qalandiya? But there was a problem, a big problem. Because at the Qalandiya checkpoint, the final link in the chain issuing crossing permits, they said they’re closed, come back tomorrow.
When Suad lost hope she also lost consciousness.
As if there’s one army here at Qalandiya and different army at the Erez crossing.
As if there’s one muhabarat here at Qalandiya and a different muhabarat at the Erez crossing.
As if there’s one computer here at Qalandiya and a different computer at the Erez crossing.
As if there’s no telephone connection between Qalandiya and the Erez crossing.
At the checkpoint there was also a Red Crescent ambulance which a medical staffer said had brought “a very sick baby” from the West Bank. A year-and-a-half old baby who was transferred from one ambulance to another on the way to treatment at Hadassah hospital.
I was detained for one hour and fifty minutes (from 5:30 to 7:20 in the evening) at the Qalandiya police station. The charge: Disobeying a police officer. My prior detentions here and at other police stations didn’t make the experience any easier.