04/13/2006versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

A woman forced to give birth at a checkpoint
Written for†PeaceReporter by
Grazia Careccia
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.
qalandia check - point 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.
the wallWhile 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.