Palestinian Family: Ill Mother Died After Being Delayed at Checkpoint

Relatives of woman from Isawiyah say car was detained half an hour and that she had inhaled teargas, while Israel police reject their version of events on both counts.

Olivier Fitoussi

A 65-year-old woman from Isawiyah died Sunday night after being made to wait at a makeshift checkpoint in the East Jerusalem village, according to local residents.

The woman, Hoda Mohammed Musa Darwish, suffered acute shortness of breath on Sunday night, which her relatives attributed to teargas fired by Israeli police in the area.

Her sons took her in their vehicle to hospital. However, Israeli police recently have set up blockades around Isawiyah, like most East Jerusalem neighborhoods, from all directions save for the road leading toward the Ma'ale Adumim-Jerusalem highway.

Darwish's children travelled with her toward the barricade and passed other cars waiting in line. The police manning the checkpoint likely suspected a terrorist attempt and blocked the car.

The family asserts that they were held for half an hour and subjected to a search. Only after the son, Yusuf, managed to get the attention of the officer in charge, was the vehicle allowed to continue on its way.

Shortly after the family arrived at the hospital, the mother was pronounced dead.

The police reject the family's version of events and assert that the vehicle was barely detained. The Jerusalem police assert that they checked with the hospital, and that she died of natural causes.

"A vehicle approached at 5:30, which was speeding past" other cars, the police commented. "The officers stopped it. When the son showed the police the woman lying in back, they allowed him to pass through without a check."