Stories from Qalandiya: ‘I Only Follow Rules’

Ali, an 11-month-old cancer patient, at the Qalandiya military checkpoint. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Tamar Fleishman

This is the story of a Palestinian father, who is not allowed to be with his ill son, sit by his bed, or hold his hand as he takes his last breath, due to the horrific Israeli occupation.

I saw a child with cancer at the Israeli military checkpoint of Qalandiya. He was only accompanied by his mother and I asked a medical team member where his father was. 

“It is a well-known fact,” the Palestinian paramedic told me. “Fathers are not allowed to be with their children. There is nothing I can do about it”.

“I don’t make the rules, I only follow orders,” the Israeli soldier said, when asked. 

Due to this inhumane rule, the father suffers greatly, the child misses him and the poor mother finds herself alone, helpless, in a strange environment where she knows nobody.

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

Ali was only 11 months old when he arrived at the Qalandiya checkpoint from Tulkarm, on his way to the Augusta Victoria Hospital, in East Jerusalem.

Ali suffers from kidney cancer. He was accompanied by his mother, a young, bewildered woman who had never been to a strange city before. She didn’t know how far the hospital was, and she had no idea whom she might turn to if she needed help. 

She asked the Palestinian medical team member to go with them, but he too – a resident of the Occupied West Bank – was not allowed to continue his journey with Ali and his mother and he didn’t know anybody in Jerusalem.

The paramedic asked me if I had any contact there, but personally, I barely knew where the hospital was located. 

When I saw the terrified look on the mother’s face, I decided to call my friend Vivy Sury, who gave me the number of a nurse at the hematological ward of the Augusta Victoria Hospital.

A ray of hope brightened the mother’s face. 

However, I didn’t have time to rejoice: another ambulance carried a young Palestinian man from Burkin. He was injured in the eye while working in a wood shop. It took him three hours to obtain the necessary permits to cross the Israeli military checkpoint.

For the entire time, the injured man sat in his ambulance, with his mother and medic. In the occupied West Bank there is no proper medical facility to treat this kind of injury and his only chance is to get to the St. John Hospital, which specialized in eye surgery.

But for Israeli soldiers, this doesn’t matter and they kept him waiting, oblivious to the fact that his condition is worsening by the minute.

(Photos: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

 (Translated by Tal Haran. Edited by Romana Rubeo)

– As a member of Machsomwatch, Tamar Fleishman documents events at Israeli military checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Her reports, photos and videos can be found on the organization’s website: www.machsomwatch.org. She is also a member of the ‘Coalition of Women for Peace’ and a volunteer in ‘Breaking the Silence’. Tamar Fleishman is The Palestine Chronicle correspondent at the Qalandiya checkpoint.  

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