Thursday, September 18, 2008

They Let Babies Die, Don't They?

Naheel Abu Rideh, 21

Philosophers will argue whether there is a significant ethical difference between killing and letting die. Apparently, there is a significant difference for Israelis between killing a Jewish baby and letting a Palestinian baby die. The penalty for the former is life imprisonment (if the killer manages to get a trial) and blowing up the home of the family. The penalty for the latter is a two week prison sentence.

That's the way it is in Sodom -- I mean, the West Bank -- today.

B'Tselem is reporting that yet another Palestinian baby was born dead at a checkpoint because the mother was not allowed to go through by the soldiers. I have lost count of the dead babies; you can find the number somewhere on the B'Tselem website here.

I remember when this sort of thing was big news. Now, it doesn't even make the Israeli papers. I reproduce here the testimony of the mother, Naheel Abu Rideh, from the B'Tselem website.

I married Muaiad Abu-Rideh two years ago, and had a baby girl, Shadah, a year ago. She was born in my seventh month of pregnancy but is fine now.

Seven months ago, I became pregnant again. Last Thursday [4 September], I had sharp stomach pains and I started to bleed badly. Around 7:00 P.M. I went to Dr. Fathi ‘Odeh in Jawarish, because our village doesn’t have any specialist physicians. He gave me medication and told me I’d be all right, but I didn't feel any improvement and the pains even got worse.

Around midnight, I couldn’t bear the pain any more. I woke my husband and asked him to take me to the hospital. When he saw how much I was suffering, he called to get his brother ‘Udai, who lives in the center of the village, to drive us in his car. ‘Udai arrived, with my mother-in-law, in a couple of minutes. My husband picked me up and carried me to the car. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t walk.

We started on our way to the hospital in Nablus at about 12:50 A.M. At the Za’tara checkpoint, we told the soldiers I was pregnant and had to get to the hospital, and they let us cross without a problem. When we got to the Huwara checkpoint, the soldiers didn’t let us pass. They said we didn't have a permit to cross by car. We told them my brother has a permit to cross the Ma’ale Efraim checkpoint because he works at settlements in the Jordan Valley, but that didn’t help.

The pain got worse. I felt as if I was going to give birth any moment. Now and then, the soldiers came over to the car and looked at me lying in the back seat. I was really worried about the fetus, and couldn’t stop thinking that I’d have to give birth in the car while the soldiers watched.

I kept screaming and crying and calling for help. I don’t know how much time passed, but suddenly I felt the fetus coming out. I shouted to my mother-in-law and to ‘UdaI, who were outside the car: “I think he’s coming out!” I took off my clothes. I was afraid they’d see me naked and that something would happen to the fetus. My mother-in-law shouted: “Yes, here’s his head, he’s coming out.” I asked her to pull him, and she said, “Breathe! Push!” I felt as the baby move, as if he was calling for help and asking us to help him come out. My mother-in-law covered me with my clothes. I shouted to my husband, ”The baby is out!” He shouted to the soldiers something in Hebrew that I didn't understand.

I don’t remember exactly what happened then, but when the medics arrived, they picked me up with the car seat and put me in the ambulance. I didn’t feel the baby moving any more and realized he was dead. The medics took away the dead baby and took me to the hospital. My husband and mother-in-law came with me in the ambulance. At the hospital, the doctors operated on me to clean my uterus. They discharged me the next day.

It hurts me a lot when I remember how the baby moved inside me and what happened to him. What did he do wrong? I also gave birth to my daughter in my seventh month, and now she is healthy. This poor baby died because there wasn’t anybody to help me deliver him.

Naheel 'Awni 'Abd a-Rahim Abu Rideh, 21, married with one child, is a homemaker and a resident of Qusra in Nablus District. Her testimony was given to Salma a-Deba'i on 8 September 2008 at the witness's home.


Anonymous said...

There were not 10 in Sodom. I'm sure there are more righteous at the checkpoints than that.
Mind your metaphors!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there would not have been time for the woman to get to a hospital, according to the article, the baby was stillborn almost immediately. Blaming every act of nature on Israel or the IDF is a sure loser.

Why not consider the women and children that Hamas and IJ blew up on buses and in their homes?

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough I am experiencing something somewhat similar in California: different in that California has representatives subject to recall by the electorate if they are refused a vote on the constitution of the state and of the nation-state. Rather than there being checkpoints, there are gatekeepers at the doors of medical centers, refusing care to many of those who require emergency services. To the ill and the injured denial of access to non-emergency medical services can be life threatening. That this occurs due to a lack of citizenship documentation is untenable, yet true. Pregnancy, though, is one of the exceptions, so in this still we have not become as draconian as other states. Or at least, not in my experience. (Since pregnancy related services are not an area of expertise, for me, I'm not sure that my perception of "all is well with pregnancy related services" is true.) But perhaps it doesn't matter. That one part of the population benfits more than another is not as important as that a part of the population is subject to inhumane policies deying them comfort and succor. (It is interesting though to note where money is spent instead.)

Jerry Haber said...

"Blaming every act of nature on the IDF is a sure loser."

Checkpoints are not an act of nature. Detaining people at checkpoints is not an act of nature. Providing inferior medical care (how many modern hospitals are there on the West Bank, under Israel's charge since 1967?) is not an act of nature.

If this happened once, then you could have a point. But do you know how many Palestinians have died because of checkpoints.

Checkpoints may save lives. But they most certainly kill.

Innocent babies have been blown up by terrorists. But many more innocent babies have been killed by the IDF.

Don't take my word for it -- go to the human rights websites. Read about the deaths on B'Tselem.

Anyway, I don't like playing the number games. Only one side has humiliated and dominated the other for the last forty years.

Which side is that?