Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank blocks a pregnant woman at medical risk from taking the quick route to a hospital in East Jerusalem, even though she is accompanying her Israeli husband in their Israeli car, because it would entail going through a checkpoint that “isn’t meant for Palestinians.”
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Yara Abu Oudeh, 37, is from Nablus; her husband, Khaled, is from Jerusalem, and therefore has an Israeli identity card. Yara has both a Civil Administration permit to enter Israel and an Interior Ministry permit for permanent residency in Jerusalem. Both Abu Oudehs work in Jerusalem – he as a food vendor, she as a social worker – and they live in Anata, which is within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries but on the other side of the separation barrier. Getting to other parts of the city therefore requires going through a checkpoint.
Abu Oudeh is in her ninth month of pregnancy. Since she has juvenile diabetes, she needs frequent medical check-ups and special precautions when giving birth. But the checkpoint nearest her home, Shoafat, always entails long waits, so like many Anata residents she prefers to use the Hizme checkpoint, which is reserved for Israelis.
Khaled Abu Oudeh told Haaretz that until two years ago, his wife never had any problem going through Hizme with him, since she had the requisite permits. But since then, the soldiers there often refuse to let her through, he said. The last time they tried, two months ago, a soldier even threatened to tear up her permit.
With help from Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, the Abu Oudehs asked the Civil Administration for a permit for Yara to use Hizme to ensure rapid access to the hospital. They sent the request on January 20, and 17 days later, on February 6, received a handwritten response granting her “special” permission to use Shoafat – which she was already entitled to use. In a follow-up phone call, 2nd Lt. Alon Cohen told Hamoked that Yara could not use Hizme.
A spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories responded that Hizme “isn’t meant for Palestinian transit, because it lacks the infrastructure for the requisite security checks,” and Shoafat is closer to the Abu Oudehs’ house anyway.
“There are procedures for handling medical emergencies at the crossings, which enables quick handling of Palestinians who need urgent medical care in Israel,” he added.