Qalandiya - the ordeal of a serious cardiac patient on his way to the hospital
While crossing the checkpoint into Palestine and back, I was verbally attacked three times by armed personnel:
You are prohibited from doing this – This is a security area – You hamper our work – Sister, go away – It’s illegal – There is an official edict forbidding it – Leave in good will or you’ll be forced to leave – Do you want to be arrested?
And more of such false, unfriendly and familiar jargon.
Furthermore, it was nearly bodily contact closer than the type usually known to people, and the attacker was only stopped by my warning that a complaint of sexual harassment would follow.
But attention should mainly be directed to the patient lying in the ambulance coming from the West Bank, waiting and waiting and then more waiting to be allowed to cross the evil line between here and there, between the West Bank and Jerusalem, and continue his journey to the East Jerusalem hospital to which he was referred by his doctors.
Even before the man in the ambulance was exposed to the human eyes, the guns and the procedures, the Red Crescent paramedic called out to the soldiers: His condition is worsening, and repeated time and again, His condition is worsening, trying to have them hurry up and approve the passage from one ambulance to the other. All in vain.
None of those in charge of the procedures at the checkpoint paid any attention to the call, nor to the patient’s fate, and continued their jobs peacefully, making sure that the patient was who he was claimed to be, as well as his accompanying wife and son, that there was nothing faulty about their permits, that the soldiers photograph everyone’s ID, and that everything was done by the book.
As the woman in charge of medical issues and coordination told me in the past about a 73-years old cardiac patient who got to the checkpoint unconscious: “What does he imagine, that he could simply come and cross over and get to the hospital?”
True, the patient back then no longer imagined anything and I am not sure that the patient whose condition was worsening could still imagine anything.
One woman-soldier noticing my concern about the man delayed in the ambulance who was clearly near death – tried to defend the soldiers’ conduct claiming that “we enable them to cross and reach the hospital”, as if they were being generous by even enabling the moribund patients to cross the checkpoint.
No, I answered, this is their right, not a virtue on your part. What you soldiers are doing is to tighten your stranglehold of millions of people.
She looked at me belligerently, unconvinced.
The good news finally arrived that everything was in order and a back-to-back procedure could begin.
The patient had to be disconnected from the equipment in the West Bank ambulance, the oxygen tank and stretcher, and connected to a Jerusalem oxygen tank in order to be placed on a Jerusalem stretcher.
Only as the doors closed on the patient and his accompaniers and the ambulance proceeded to on its way, the Red Crescent team and I finally breathed, relieved.