Hizma, Qalandiya

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Tamar Fleishman; Translator:  Charles K.

“See how they treat us,” patients usually say when they’re transferred “back-to-back” between ambulances.

This time the patient said nothing.  Perhaps the cancer patient, on his way home to Ramallah following treatment at Hadassah, and before that at Muqassed Hospital, was too weak to talk.

“See how they treat us,” said the ambulance driver who’d brought the patient to the Qalandiya checkpoint.

The driver is familiar with the procedures, and accustomed to them.  The problem is the procedures that change unexpectedly.

It’s that Menashe Hai, the police officer in charge, changed the procedures and ordered the ambulance to conduct the back-to-back transfer not at the location designated for it, but to make a U-turn and do it between two lanes of traffic.  It wasn’t only a change in procedure, but an unnecessary hardship and an additional delay of the patient and the two medical teams.

The main entrance to Hizme has been blocked for many weeks by concrete barriers on which time has made its mark.

The residents have been harmed not only by restrictions on their freedom of movement but by a serious, even mortal blow to their ability to make a living.  The locked doors of many shops are evidence of the damaged economy.  It’s impossible to live like this, people say.

The other side of Hizme is sometimes open to traffic, and sometimes blocked by soldiers for inspections and arrests and incursions into both public and private spaces.

Eyewitnesses told us of an incident that occurred yesterday, as a result of which a resident of Hizme was hospitalized after having been beaten by soldiers who’d blocked the entrance and demanded that each driver identify themself and prove they live there.

One man, who was tired of being detained every day on his way home, and having to prove every day that he lives here, expressed his anger with harsh words.  The soldier facing him, after realizing that he was in fact a local resident, slammed the car door so hard the windshield shattered.  The driver, who got out to evaluate the damage, quickly found himself thrown to the ground, beaten by four or five soldiers, kicked and hit with rifle butts.

A riot erupted involving village youths and soldiers, which was calmed only by officers who arrived and separated the two sides.

The injured man was evacuated by ambulance and the officers led their forces into the village’s lanes and alleys for some kind of exercise involving motorized patrols and invading people’s homes.

That’s all.  Until the next celebration.