Sustaining Dalal.

A follow-up on Gershom Gorenberg's piece last month about the plight of a young girl in the West Bank in need of medical attention.

At 10:03 on Monday morning, Osama Rusrus phoned from Beit Umar in the West Bank with wonderful news: His wife Sunya and daughter Dalal had crossed through the checkpoint into Jerusalem, on their way to Alyn Hospital.

It took nearly two months of wrangling with the Israeli authorities, especially a security agency that never signs its name.

Before I tell the story, let me note that this is just an early chapter. The next chapter is getting Dalal the full treatment she needs at Alyn, in order to allow her to live as fully as a girl with brain damage can. Right now she is unable to walk, has use of one hand, and has a vocabulary of one word. Treatment, according to Dr. Eliezer Be'eri of Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem, will allow her "to develop to her potential, whatever that is" and enjoy a greater quality of life. It will require a lot of money.

As described previously in TAP, Be'eri met with Osama and his daughter Dalal in October to give an initial assessment of her condition and of whether Alyn could help her. Dalal is three-and-a-half years old and has suffered since birth from brain damage that has drastically slowed her development. Neither Osama nor his wife Sunya were able to enter Jerusalem, so Be'eri performed that initial examination on the patio of the Everest Hotel outside Beit Jalla in the West Bank.

Be'eri's assessment was that Dalal not only could benefit from treatment, but needed to begin quickly. He arranged for a multi-disciplinary examination at Alyn, and made sure it was scheduled as "urgent." With Alyn's letter, Osama requested a permit from the Israeli military authorities to enter Jerusalem.

He was turned down. The appointment was postponed, and postponed again to this Monday. The Israeli groups Physicians for Human Rights and B’Tselem put in immense efforts to solve the problem. Journalists called the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the hub of military administration of the occupied territories, to ask why the permit was being withheld. So did a representative of the USAID office in Tel Aviv. Many people wanted to help one small girl. The answer from COGAT was that “security bodies” – a not particularly opaque term for Israel's Shin Bet security agency – would not approve the permit. The chance of his wife Sunya getting a permit seemed even smaller, since she is officially a resident of the Gaza Strip. It's a miracle that she's even been able to join her husband in the West Bank.

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