6:45 Sheikh Saed
Few crossing, all labourers. They hold their ID's and permits up to the glass partition, show the contents of their bags of provisions and move on.
This is the second time we have seen rats roaming the mountain of garbage spilling from the checkpoint to the road -- three the previous time, one this time. Some of the garbage has been burnt, but since the Palestinians have no other place to dispose of it, they continue to dump garbage here. Already a significant number of plastic bags filled with garbage can be seen, and the rat.
Very sparse traffic.
Before the roundabout to the entrance to Ma'aleh Adomim, on the lane to Ezariya, there is a police checkpoint. We didn't linger.
8:52 Wadi Nar
We encountered a heavy stream of traffic. The checkpoint emptied within a few minutes. There were almost no detentions.
Earthworks proceeding apace.
9:00 Zeitim Crossing from Ezariya direction
At this hour, families with their children cross, many women. One lane only is open, with a line in front of it. Passage is slow. Later we learn that the magnometer goes off too often, along with other glitches in the technological wonders at the checkpoint.
A young woman from Sheikh Sa'ad has a magnetic card valid till 2009; nevertheless she's told she must renew it. At the DCO she's told they don't renew magnetic cards today.
A couple comes out of the DCO. The woman is feeling unwell and wishes to get to the Augusta Victoria Hospital. But they are told that one of the documents lacks the doctor's signature next to the stamp. She has no choice but to return home, swallow some acamol and go to bed. 21st century medicine at its finest!
Just as we were about to leave Y. noticed a silent woman leaning against the wall of the waiting shelter. With the assistance of a driver who translated we learned that the foetus inside her is dead and she must reach the Mukassad Hospital. The date on the medical document is 19.8.08, namely the day before yesterday.
Yesterday she had come to the checkpoint and was not allowed to cross -- we have no idea why. She stood there, leaning, wrapped in her grief and bereavement, unable to act.
We began phoning. Tali from the DCO does not answer her cellphone, the office phone doesn't answer either. The emergency telephone in front of the turnstile takes us to a health depot which sends us to Dalia Bassa. She asks for a fax from Mukassad. We call Mukassad, but they are on strike and refuse to send a fax. (A central hospital is on strike, but there has been no mention of this in the press.) They suggest the woman arrive in an ambulance or send her documents by herself to the health depot.
We try to find Dalia B.'s fax, but her line is engaged and the assistant refuses to give the number. We try via machsom-watch friends and reach Hanna BR"G. She begins a series of phone calls, and an arrangement begins to take shape whereby the woman's doctor will call Mokassad and they will get back to Dalia. The woman has difficulty finding her doctor -- not surprising. I too would have had difficulty, faced by a hostile system and with a dead foetus inside me. All this while we must rely on the translation services of passing drivers of good will. The woman is compelled to reveal her private medical problems to all the strangers trying to assist her. Our ignorance of Arabic is frustrating.
We decide to take her to her clinic in Abu Dis to speed up the process. On the way, a phone call from Hanna informs us that the necessary permit is at the checkpoint.
We return to the checkpoint and decide to enter with the woman. The turnstile is blocked. We buzz, trying to draw the attention of the soldier behind the distant glass partition. The turnstile remains blocked. For a brief moment the green light comes on and the woman manages to squeeze through, but when I try to follow the turnstile is locked in my face. We call out that this is an emergency and the woman must reach hospital immediately. A large finger is raised behind the glass, and waved back and forth to signal an unequivocal "no." In halting Arabic mixed with sundry languages, and mainly gestures, I persuade the woman to proceed alone, that all will be well. She walks, her gaze fixed on us, waits in the slow line, then returns. We exchange telephone numbers, and this enrages the soldier behind the glass who yells at us. The woman is persuaded to try again, the permit after all is there. Hanna calls to inquire why we have not picked up the permit and is told that we are not at the checkpoint -- indeed true, since we are outside it!
G., one of the senior policemen at the checkpoint, arrives. He approaches us at his leisure to inquire about the hassle. Yes, he knows there's some pregnanat woman here, he's been told. At his behest, the turnstile is opened for us. We take him to the woman and he lets her through a side entrance circumventing the turnstile, talks to the soldiers and finally the woman crosses.
Now we are stuck in front of the inner turnstile. The magnometer whistles almost constantly. Most of the time the turnstile is locked. A woman with a baby
is her arms is made to pass again and agin through the magnometer, and all this time the line is stuck. Afterwards, she's taken to a side room and only then does the turnstile open.
Y. has a pace-maker. I cross first and tell the soldier she cannot go through the magnometer. (What happens to a Palestinian who arrives at the checkpoint alone, with no one to precede him and convey this information?) Soldier A is talking to female soldier B who is talking to the guards. They await the arrival of the guard and all this time the line is stuck. The guard arrives and disconnects the magnometer's electric cable. Three men are required to unplug the cable from the socket. We cross, only to return to the eastern side of the checkpoint.