Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya

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Roni Hammermann, Tamar Fleishman; Translator: Charles K.

Four men, two on each side, four members of two medical teams held the woman and moved her from one stretcher to another, trying to keep her relaxed, not jar her, not increase her suffering.  And she, who was in great pain, sighed weakly with every slight movement, every little bump.



She hadn’t any luck, that woman who while visiting relatives on the West Bank had an attack of severe back pains.  A physician determined she was suffering from a slipped disc and should be hospitalized as quickly as possible.  But the woman lives in East Jerusalem, which is where her Israeli medical insurance is valid, so “quickly” wasn’t so quickly because she must travel in a Palestinian ambulance to the Qalandiya checkpoint, be lugged from one stretcher to another, move to the ambulance coming from Jerusalem, and only then continue to her hospitalization in Sha’arei Tzedek.


And the relative accompanying her, who came with her to the checkpoint and intended to be with her in the hospital, was forced to leave and return home, because as a resident of the occupied territories bearing a green ID card, who hadn’t known in advance the woman would fall ill and didn’t arrange for a crossing permit – there are, after all, clear, well-defined procedures, and everyone knows that if it isn’t an emergency, and this wasn’t, you can’t just show up at the checkpoint without a crossing permit from the authorities.


So, only tomorrow, when the offices open, only then will she be able to come, stand in line, request a permit, perhaps she’ll get one, perhaps not, and if she does maybe she’ll be asked to give something in return, maybe not, and if she gets it, only then will she be able to travel and cross and reach Sha’arei Tzedek and sit beside her relative.


True, it’s not a tale of life and death, certainly not death.  It’s just life.



There’s a guy in the Qalandiya refugee camp – let’s call him Hassan – who told us how on Friday, at about 8 PM, as he was on his way to Jericho, he was stopped “There, at the Jaba checkpoint” by Border Police soldiers.  They told him to get out of the car, move away, opened the trunk, rummaged through his personal belongings.  “They call it a search,” said Hassan, and continued:  “Then I approached the car, I wanted to see what they were doing in my car,” but they didn’t want Hassan to see what they were doing inside his car; they pressed the muzzle of a rifle against his head.


And even though it happened two days ago, Hassan is still trembling.


And soldiers stood there, at Jaba, where the muzzle of a rifle had been pressed against Hassan’s head.  Not on the road, as usual, but off to the side, slightly behind the concrete barriers.


It was pretty hard to see them:



-          We’re afraid of getting run over, there have been hit-and-run attacks.

-          What are you doing here?

-          We’re demonstrating our presence.

-          What do you mean?

-          If the Palestinians know we’re here, someone planning at attack at the Adam settlement won’t come through.  Though it’s true they could bypass us on side roads, not take the main road.

-          And then?

-          But they won’t come through here.  OK, you can’t be everywhere, close off everything.