Qalandiya

Observers: 
Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Tal H.
02/04/2017
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Afternoon

Two patients in serious medical condition are handed over in back-to-back procedure within a single hour. Two patients passed from one stretcher to another by medical teams, not in an emergency room or trauma center. This happens at the checkpoint and is a common sight. “There have already been five since this morning”, tells me a young man whose vendor’s stand is right next to the checkpoint.

The first was brought here because of an internal hemorrhage in his abdomen, a man in danger of losing his life.

Eight hands of two medical teams who conducted his passing over seemed like a skillful and reliable machine.

However, in spite of the urgency and the fact that every minute might doom the man, those who set the priorities at the checkpoint have their own scale of values and human life is not exactly at its top.

Reality at the checkpoint is that of ‘regulations first’, and when regulations precede human life, officials don’t hurry.

First they check IDs, files and permits, and only then do they let a patient through.

The second patient arrived minutes after the first left. He is a cancer patient who had been treated in Hadassah (Jerusalem) and sent for further treatment in Nablus – not urgent perhaps because nothing is urgent any longer.

Critical, however, were the pains inflicted on this man with every move of his body. While being passed from one stretcher to another he gave out a sharp cry and then sobbed.

If ambulances were allowed to travel between the West Bank and Jerusalem, the man could have been spared his pains. But even the prevention of suffering is not considered here, where only the ‘regulations first’ principle counts.

Weeping is a rare sight in this place. People don’t cry here. Certainly not men.

Sometimes they groan, but usually grind their teeth.

The weeping of this sick man was also stifled almost as soon as it began, but continued echoing.

I looked at the girl-soldier and the security guard who were there on hand, making sure that every comma and semi-colon of the regulations be kept, and saw their eyes empty, like those of someone who has taken a shot of emotional anesthetic.