Qalandiya - a baby, sedated and ventilated, is detained

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Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Tal H.
  • What do you call it, when bureaucracy takes precedence over health?
    What do you call it, when in the minds of those control the life and death of people procedure takes priority?
    What do you call it, when human life does not take priority?
    I don’t know what you call it when a babyinfo-icon, sedated and ventilated, is detained at Qalandiya checkpoint on his way to Maqassed Hospital, the only hospital in East Jerusalem capable of carrying out delicate, complicated surgery, for all hospitals in the West Bank do not possess the ability and knowledge needed to operate the rib-cage of a s-month old baby and give it life.
    The infant – tube criss-crossing his thin arms and tiny body – lay there motionless, his eyes shut, resembling a miniature version of the Jesus on the Cross.
    A woman-doctor and a nurse from Ramallah were with him to care for his survival, and from the other side – East Jerusalem – an emergency ambulance arrived, the only one possessed by the Red Crescent, carrying a specialist-paramedic who had undergone training for such extraordinary cases.
    It was obvious for everyone that the infant’s fragile condition requires special, swift treatment.
    Everyone? – Not exactly. The armed personnel operating the checkpoint, who rule even without prior knowledge who is to live and who is to die, have their own order of priorities in which procedure comes first.
    They detained the ambulance carrying the infant with his mother, doctor and nurse, until they verified beyond all reasonable doubt that the documents were ‘kosher’ and that the infant is really the one registered in those documents, his mother is really his mother, and photographed all these documents one by one.
    But even a baby, his life hanging on a limb, does not pass directly to a hospital where a special team awaits him – one had to exchange his oxygen tank that came with him from Ramallah, one had to switch the medical team that had come with him from Ramllah with a team that came to him from East Jerusalem, and the former had to update the latter about the condition of the infant and the procedures that would take place in his body.
    When the baby would arrive, it begins anew.
    While we were waiting for the ambulance to arrive from Ramallah, and during the nerve-wracking time as we waited for the meticulous checks to be completed, I heard from the medical team members some of what was happening all the while near the Damascus Gate and inside the Al Aqsa Mosque during the obscene march that was defined as the main event of Jerusalem Day.
    They said that 6 Red Crescent ambulances were advanced by their teams, their hands filled with work rescuing and caring for victims of attacks perpetrated by the marchers with the Israeli flags, that Border Policemen violently entered the Al Aqsa Mosque, and that a Red Crescent volunteer was arrested in the area of the mosque.