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HAP helps another Palestinian girl

Friday 10 October 2003, by Michal Zak

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Meet Battul Jaludi: she is five years old and she comes from Faquo’a - a village near Jenin. Battul has a heart problem and needs surgery (technically, she suffers from a small perimembranous VSD, and unexplained left ventricular hypertrophy and dilatation). She is the daughter of Bashar, a journalist and Hannan, a student at the Open University (a distance-learning institution in Palestine). For a long time they have been “running around” looking for a solution for her. The inverted commas are there since actually they can hardly move: from the beginning of the intifada, Israel’s policy of closures has made it almost impossible for them to leave their own village.

Since she was born, Battul has been in hospitals in Palestine and Jordan, but they have been unable to help her. The treatment she requires is available in Israel. It is a short, “simple”, but lifesaving operation, after which Battul can expect to lead a normal life.

Yet nothing is simple these days for Palestinians. First there is the enormous cost of medical treatment. Battul’s father was in contact with Dr. Asli, an Arab cardiologist who is employed by both the Schneider Hospital in Kfar Saba and the St. Vincent de Paul hospital in Nazareth. He arranged support through the Chain of Hope Foundation. The foundation proposed to help, on condition that there would be a co-sponsor, and Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam agreed. Each will cover one half of the costs ($5,000) for the operation. Dr. Asli treats many Palestinian children with heart problems, with the support of St. Vincent de Paul hospital, and has managed to save some twenty children with similar needs for surgery.

Besides their inability to pay the high cost of treatment in Israeli hospitals, Palestinians also face travel restrictions affecting their entry into Israel. We ran into this obstacle even while trying to arrange a preliminary consultation at Schneider hospital.
Battul’s father, Bashar, has been barred from entering Israel until 2010 (according to the file on him kept by Israel’s security forces). Her mother, Hannan is now eight months pregnant, and felt wary about traveling alone. It took us one week and a hundred phone calls to obtain travel permits for Battul, her mother and grandmother. Travel permits are usually easier to arrange for women, though after a woman blew herself up in a Haifa restaurant last week, who knows what may happen now.

A group including Battul, her mother and grandmother, and two members of the Humanitarian Aid Committee, went for the consultation. They were received by the hospital director, Prof. Mimouni, who welcomed the family and promised all his support. They also met with the Dr. Asli and the staff who will operate, and they explained the procedure down to the last detail.

It is not every day that an Israeli institution treats a girl from the other side of the border. The hospital is like an island, outside of the conflict. Once inside everyone is treated as equal and with much respect. The problem is that is so very hard to get there.

Members of the HAP committee will accompany the family while Battul is being treated at the hospital. Perhaps Hannan will be lucky and give birth while she is there as it sometimes happens that Palestinian women end up giving birth on the bare earth by army checkpoints, or in taxis delayed by the army while en route to hospitals in Palestine. Such cases have already cost the lives of several babies - but that is a story for another time.

The visit to the hospital was very reassuring. They will operate in less than two weeks time, and that’s a firm promise!!

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At the hospital consultation with the doctor

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