Let it not be said that the Israeli Shabak allows humanitarian considerations ever to trouble its deliberations when it concerns Palestinians. Several months ago Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian legislature representing the PFLP, discovered from her doctor that he detected some troubling developments in her brain. He prescribed emergency medical treatment in Amman where she could receive an advanced brain scan. She applied to the Gaza military coordinator who approved a pass for her to travel there, saying there was no security consideration that should prevent her from traveling. So far so good.
Enter the Shabak. Never one to miss an opportunity to harrass a Palestinian, especially one representing a party which is hostile to much of current Israeli policy, its minions discovered that Jeraar indeed would pose a security threat if she received such treatment, and they refused her. Of course, she had to wait hours on end at the Allenby Bridge hoping to be able to pass into Jordan and make her appointment at the hospital in Amman, before being told there was nothing to be done for her there on that day. In fact, the Shin Bet told her to return to Gaza and to the same military coordinator and apply for medical treatment in the standard way that other Palestinians do so. Gobbledy-gook naturally since there was no other medical option for her other than treatment in Amman (her Palestinian medical insurance will not cover treatment in Israel).
Amira Hass reports that the very same military coordinator replied to her that if Jarrar turns to them again with medical proof of her condition (which she had already presented to them when they approved her initially for an exit permit), that it will in turn approach the military authorities in the matter. Wasn’t that what was supposed to happen in the first place? In the meantime, a woman, a human being let us remember, stews in Gaza with a medical emergency, while the Israeli Occuaption bureaucracy attempts to determine whether she should live or die. It’s certainly a scene worth of Kafka.
Perhaps the secret police actually claims some super-medical expertise and decided that she didn’t need such treatment. At any rate, Khalida sits in Gaza waiting to see if brain cancer or some other life-threatening condition develops all because the Shabak wants to punish her for the sins of her political party. No doubt Yuval Diskin sits in his office chuckling and saying: “Serves the bitch right.”
I’m not foolish enough to think that these goons would have a conscience about such things. But perhaps there are a few decent Israelis in government or perhaps there are a few American government officials who might overlook political considerations and understand that they are potentially saving a life in pressuring the secret police to relent.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.