Written for†PeaceReporter by
Itís the morning of March 14 2006. After nine months wait, Naima feels that itís
nearly time for her fifth son to be born. Naima isnít yet thirty and lives in
Hizma, a small village a few kilometres from Jerusalem, that she can see from
the windows of her house, so close yet so far because of the dark grey wall that
separates her village from the city.
Jerusalem is out of reach for the ones like Naima that do not have an identification
document issued by Jerusalem. As soon as Naima feels the pains that announce the
birth of her son, she decides like the other times to take a taxi and go towards
Ramallah: her son will not be able to be born in Jerusalem, so close yet so far.
The trip to reach Ramallah, which is distant ten kilometres is of approximately
three quarters of an hour, considering the various obstacles, the roads that the
Palestinians cannot use and the checkpoints. But this is not a day like any other,
the siege of the Israeli prison of Jericho is going on and the tension is higher
than usual: the surveillance of the Israeli occupation force is more intense so
much to make moving around nearly impossible. But Naima cannot wait, her son is
about to be born and, accompanied by her mother, she gets into the first available
taxi, that after a few hundred meters is stopped by an Israeli military patrol.
The armoured vehicle blocks the road, itís a so called Ďflying checkpointí, at
any moment a military can block the flow of vehicles and people on the roads of
CisJordan. The identification documents of the passengers of the taxi are carefully
examined and after a quarter of an hour the car is given permission to leave.
But after a few kilometres the taxi has to stop again, there is a car jam, they
are lined up and donít seem to move any time soon. The pains are still bearable
and after having waited half an hour Naima and her mother decide to get off and
to go on by foot, they overtake the line of vehicles and reach another Ďflying
checkpointí, they show their identifications to the military and ask to go through
quickly since there is a new life waiting to be born and that cannot wait. After
the second check Naima and her mother take another taxi while the pains become
more intense and the contractions more frequent. The car goes along the damaged
road and at every pothole itís a stab for Naima that feels the delivery closer
and the fear of not being able to reach the hospital grows, but the obstacles
are not finished. The taxi stops in front of the bar that closes the road to Ramallah,
but there are still 300 meters before Naima can reach by foot the iron gates of
the Ďterminalí of Atarot (Qalandia) and then go on to Ramallah with another taxi.
While she walks the pains become unbearable, time is not enough and she feels
that her strength is weakening, she manages to reach the wall in proximity of
the checkpoint and collapses on the ground: her son is born at the feet of the
ďhafradaĒ (separation in Hebrew) wall. A doctor that was passing by offers her
help and so do the people passing by, the Israeli soldiers working at the checkpoint
come closer to look and rapidly leave without helping her at all. Itís a baby
girl that will be called Hanadea, born at the feet of the wall that separates
CisJordan from CisJordan, tearing it apart. The doctor calls the ambulance of
the Red Halfmoon, while Naima starts loosing a lot of blood, this delivery was
particularly difficult and lying on the pavement has made it even more painful.
The fear is big and the humiliation of having to share such an intimate moment
with the passing crowds in the dust has made it particularly traumatic. Half and
hour goes by before the ambulance arrives, then Naima and her daughter finally
can go towards the hospital of Ramallah, but there is still a checkpoint to pass.
This time since itís an ambulance the military are less exigent and after a quick
check they let it through. Naima couldnít have called the ambulance from home
because she hasnít got a phone and she was sure, given the previous experiences,
to have enough time to give birth to her daughter in hospital. But even time in
Palestine isnít an asset that belongs to the Palestinians and is totally in the
hands of the Israeli occupation force.† When I meet Naima, she has a smile dimmed
by sadness, the joy of having given birth to her daughter has been tarnished by
the dust of the checkpoint, by fear and humiliation. Hanadea is very small, she
is two weeks old but she has already lived enough to know the harshness of a military
occupation regime, illegal and humiliating, that weighs on her land and her people.