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From the field

Sick infant dies after being delayed by soldiers at checkpoint while on way to hospital. November 2006

Rabi'ah Dababseh, 39

Rabi'ah Dababseh

I live in a-Nassariyah. On November 4, 2006, my sister in law, Sahar, had a delivered a baby boy by Caesarean section in al-Itihad hospital in Nablus . The baby was born in poor health.

On Sunday, November 12, 2006, I left the house around 7:30 AM to find a cab that would take Sahar and the baby to a hospital. I asked a boy from our village who has a car, Suleiman Balawaneh, to take me and Sahar to Nablus . We got into the car and I carried the baby because his mother was still in pain from the surgery.

We arrived at al-Badhan checkpoint on the way to Nablus . It was between 8:15 and 8:30 AM. There were many cars moving slowly at the checkpoint. I decided to get out of the car with the baby and approach the soldiers. I was hoping they would let us pass quickly because of Sahar's and the baby's condition. One of the soldiers started yelling at me to move back so I returned to the car. I tried talking to the soldier before returning but he aimed his gun at me and threatened to shoot me if I didn't go back.

A few minutes later, the boy who was driving us took the medical documents and decided to approach the soldiers himself, hoping they would let us pass. The soldiers yelled at him: "Stop!" and then they called him. When the driver got to them, I saw them beating him. Four soldiers beat him. I felt extremely bad when I saw it because I felt that it was our fault it was happening to him. The soldiers continued to beat him for 10 or 15 minutes. In the meantime, I prayed for his wellbeing. I don't remember how he got to the car, but that he arrived in very bad condition.

We continued to wait for a very long time, although I don't remember exactly how long. The feeling was terrible. The baby and his mother were both very sick, and I was feeling guilty for what had happened to the driver and for my inability to help him.

Afterwards, a driver from Tammun came and asked the mother and baby to step out of the car. I got out with them and we went to the checkpoint. I carried the baby and Sahar walked slowly behind me. When I arrived, a soldier said to me: "Only the baby's mother!" I told him that the mother was sick and in pain and that she had stitches from the surgery, but he insisted that the mother continue alone and would not let me accompany her. The driver from Tammun took her and the baby to the doctor.

I continued to wait at the checkpoint until they let me pass. I got to Nablus and looked for Sahar at all of the familiar pediatric clinics. When I got to Dr. Nihad Al-Masri's clinic, I was told they had been sent to al-Itihad hospital. I went to the hospital and was told that the baby had been transferred to al-Watani hospital in Nablus . I got to al-Watani hospital and found Sahar and the baby.

My husband, Othman, heard about what had happened and came after us to the hospital. We stayed there until 4:30PM and the baby remained alone in the incubator. The doctors said the mother needed to leave as well. After we left, we called the hospital to check up on the baby's condition. Shortly after 8:30PM, my husband told me that the baby had died at the hospital. In the morning, the baby was breathing normally and we did not know he was about to die, but that's what happened.

Sahar is still suffering from the pains of the surgery and is mourning the loss of her baby.  

Rabi'ah Yaseen 'Abd a-Rahim Dababseh, 39, is a mother of 5 and a resident of a-Nassariyah in Nablus. Her testimony was taken by Atef Abu a-Rub in a-Nassariyah on 15 November 2006.