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From the field

IDF causes death of infant by preventing mother's evacuation to hospital, April 2002

Tahani Fatuah, mother of deceased infant, age 35

I live with my husband and our four-year-old son in the al-Masakan al-Shabiyeh neighborhood of Nablus. I became pregnant again after undergoing fertility treatment. For four years, my husband and I waited for the new baby.

Yesterday [Friday, 12 April], marked the thirty-two-week point of my pregnancy, meaning I was in the end of my eighth month. Nablus was under curfew. Around 4:00 P.M., I felt sharp labor pains. I told my husband about it and said that I had to go to the hospital. He called the Red Crescent and asked them to send an ambulance immediately to take me to the hospital. They responded that the Israeli army was not letting them move about, but that they would try. After about fifteen minutes passed, my husband called the Red Crescent again. They said that they had left the station, but while en route, the Israeli army ordered them to return. My husband asked them to try to coordinate matters with the International Red Cross.

A few minutes later, somebody from the Red Crescent informed my husband that they had tried again, but that the army fired at them and forced them to return. The third time that my husband spoke with the Red Crescent, the ambulance driver said that he would take the risk and try to get through without Red Cross coordination. My husband asked him not to endanger his life, and said that he would try to contact foreign groups to see if they could help us. My husband called the Tom Christ, the director of Save the Child, in Jerusalem. He told Tom about my situation and Tom promised that he would call some organizations that might be able to help us.

Around 6:00 P.M., my labor pains got worse. My husband called Dr. Salem Tabila, an obstetrician who lives nearby. He and my husband, who is also a physician, delivered the baby. A bit after 6:00 P.M., I gave birth to a boy. His condition was normal. They gave him water and sugar to check if he would respond to it, and he did. He was in good condition. I was really happy because I didn't think that he was in danger. About fifteen minutes later, though, his condition started to deteriorate. He started to turn blue, and he stopped crying. My husband gave him first aid, but his condition worsened. My husband was unable to save him, and our baby died.

My husband, who saves lives on a daily basis, couldn't save our son, for whom he waited so much. Our baby died because he needed an incubator, but we couldn't get to the hospital, which was only two kilometers from our house, because of the curfew imposed by the Israeli army. Our first son was also born prematurely, in my thirty-fifth month of pregnancy. But he was placed in the incubator at the hospital. Now he is a normal four-year-old child.

Tahani Assad 'Ali Fatuah, age 35, is married with one child. She works as a pharmacist and lives in Nablus. The testimony was taken by 'Ali Daragmeh, on 13 April, 2002