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Testimony: Soldiers prevent pregnant, bleeding woman from crossing checkpoint and she gives birth to a stillborn baby, September 2008

Naheel Abu Rideh, 21

Naheel  Abu Rideh

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.