Where All the Troubles of the World Converge

Stories from Qalandiya: Where All the Troubles of the World Converge
Palestinians waiting at the Israeli Qalandiya military checkpoint to obtain permits from the Israeli army. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Tamar Fleishman

I was going home after spending a long time on the Palestinian side of the Israeli Qalandiya military checkpoint. I had filled my basket with fresh seasonal fruits after taking pictures near the Qalandiya refugee camp. It was then that a Palestinian man asked me to join him at the Israeli Civil Administration (DCO) offices. 

He was hoping that my presence could help him obtain a permit for his daughter, who needed to reach the St. John Hospital in East Jerusalem. “God willing,” he said, “she would immediately have surgery, as the doctors have recommended.”

I tried in vain to lower his expectations regarding my ability to influence the Israeli authorities’ decision. The man insisted that his “daughter needs to undergo urgent surgery today.”

Meanwhile, his wife and daughter were waiting for him in a taxi just outside the checkpoint. The driver was ready to start the car and bring them to the hospital as soon as the father came back with the required permits.

According to the procedure, the applicant must wait for his turn, then close the door behind him to find himself in front of a secured window, where an Israeli soldier is sitting and will handle his case. 

The office was full of people waiting silently and patiently for their turn or to receive their verdict. All the troubles of the world seem to converge on this small, crowded place. 

The man who was with me kept moving, not knowing what to do. I managed to draw the attention of a female Israeli soldier and I asked her if anybody could deal with the man’s case. He was directed to a different room and I entered with him. 

A soldier arrived immediately.

“I need an urgent permit, my daughter needs to get to the hospital and have surgery,” the Palestinian man said.

“It is too late,” the Israeli soldier said. “We shut down half an hour ago. Why didn’t you come earlier?”

“I come from far away, from Nablus,” the man tried to explain.

“Too late”.

“ Please, I need a favor,” the man begged him.

“Why are you here?” the soldier asked, turning to me. 

“She is with me”, the man said. 

The soldier asked me to leave and I had to go, hoping for the best. 

A few minutes later, the man came out and told me that not only did he not get what he asked for, but he was also reprimanded for bringing me with him.

Then, he hurried to his family and I stayed there, with a broken heart, in front of yet another injustice perpetrated by the Israeli occupier.

(Translated by Tal Haran; Edited by Romana Rubeo)

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