Qalandiya - only the mother gets to accompany her child to hospital

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Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Tal H.

This is a tale of fathers, present-absentee fathers, who ache the pains of their ill child but who, because of the ruling power’s orders, are not allowed to be with him, sit by his bed, care of all his needs, caress his head and hold his hand as he takes his last breath.

We know that only the mother gets to accompany her child to hospital, said a medical team member when I asked where the father of the cancer-ill babyinfo-icon was.

  • It is a known fact… that’s how it is… Can’t do a thing about it… say the Palestinians.
  • And the soldiers? – I don’t make the rules… it’s procedure… I only follow orders.

The absence of the fathers hurts not only the person who is denied the possibility to accompany his child – this resembles a stone thrown into the water, that causes ever-widening circles.

Not only the child misses his father – no less hurtful is the state of the mother who finds herself alone, helpless, in a strange environment, without knowing anyone.

This is a tale about a child named Ali, and his parents.

11-month-old Ali came to Qalandiya all the way from Tulkarm and is on his way to the Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem. Ali has cancer in one of his kidneys and is accompanied only by his mother, a young and frightened woman who has never been in the strange city to which she is headed, does not know how far that hospital is, has never heard anything about it and has no idea whom she might turn to if she needs any kind of help.

In her distress, she spoke with the medical team member, but he too – as resident of the Occupied Territories – is not only forbidden from continuing the journey with Ali and his mother, but he too knows no one in Jerusalem.

The man asked me whether I had any contacts there, but even if I know where the hospital is located, I don’t know anyone there.

Seeing the woman’s fallen face, I called my friend Vivy Sury who gave me the phone number of an acquaintance of hers who works as a nurse in the hematological ward of Augusta Victoria.

Perhaps this was no great relief, but the mother’s desperate situation still saw a crack of hope that brought half a smile to her pursed lips – even this was a touch of grace.

At the same time, in the same place, another ambulance carrying a young man from Burkin – wounded in the eye while working in the wood shop – was detained for 3 hours until the bureaucratic holdup was solved between the ‘yes, we have permits’ as the ambulance team said, and the ‘no, you have no permits’ as the checkpoint soldiers claimed.

The whole time, the wounded man sat in the closed ambulance with his mother and a medic, and since the West Bank has no proper medical facility to treat this kind of injury, no doubt it was important to get to the St. John Hospital, specializing in eye-surgery. Three hours of waiting and the long drive did not improve matters…