A critically ill Palestinian infant at the Israeli military checkpoint in Qalandiya. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Tamar Fleishman

What do you call it, when bureaucracy takes precedence over a person’s health and human life is no longer a priority?

I don’t know how to define a situation where a baby, sedated and ventilated, is being held at the Israeli military checkpoint in Qalandiya and not allowed to reach Muqassad Hospital in East Jerusalem.

Muqassad is the only hospital capable of performing complicated surgery,

because not all health centers in the West Bank have the capacity and knowledge to operate on the rib cage of a 5-month-old baby.

The infant – with tubes surrounding its tiny arms and tiny body – lies there motionless, eyes closed. He looks like a miniature version of Jesus on the cross.

A Palestinian doctor and a nurse from Ramallah are with him, while on the other side an emergency ambulance arrives. It is the only vehicle owned by the Red Crescent, carrying a specialist paramedic who has undergone training for these extraordinary cases.

It is obvious to everyone that the fragility of the infant requires special and rapid care.

Everybody? – Not exactly. The Israeli officials manning the military checkpoint have their own order of priorities, in which bureaucratic procedures come first.

They hold up the ambulance carrying the child with his mother, doctor and nurse, until they verify beyond reasonable doubt that the documents are “kosher” and that the Palestinian child is well the one recorded on these papers.

Medical personnel are forced to replace the infant’s oxygen tank as he may run out of oxygen before he arrives in East Jerusalem.

Even a baby, whose life hangs by a thread, is not allowed to go directly to the hospital, where a special medical team is waiting for him.

(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. His reports, photos and videos are available on the organisation’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’s correspondent at the Qalandiya checkpoint.