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Baby "Zeid" dies after premature birth at Huwwara checkpoint; 1 Israeli soldier jailed

Sept. 13, 2008 9:39 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 13, 2008 9:39 A.M.)
Nablus - Ma'an - An Israeli company commander was jailed for 14 days and stripped of command for his role in causing a pregnant Palestinian woman's baby to be delivered stillborn at the Huwwara checkpoint on Friday.

The Israeli army said the soldier violated protocol by not allowing the woman 21-year-old Nahil Abu Raja, to pass.

The husband and would-be father Mu'yed Abu Reeda, 29, a resident of the village of Qasra south of Nablus, told Ma'an that "my wife, my mother, my sister and me arrived the checkpoint which is 25 kilometers away from the village at 12 :00 midnight after my wife started to feel the labor contractions and then she bled due to labor ."

Nahil was only seven months pregnant, so the family was alarmed and went quickly towards the nearest hospital in Nablus, on the far side of the Huwwara checkpoint.

Mu'yed, who works in one of the Israeli illegal settlements in the Jordan Valley, explained that he and his wife waited for about an hour and a half at the checkpoint. The soldiers, he said, insisted on getting Nahil a special permit before allowing her to cross.

"My wife gave birth to a boy we had decided to name Zeid." However, since Zeid was two months premature, he needed special care, and died moments after his birth, still at the checkpoint.

Mu'yed described his feelings during the experience as mixed with pain, oppression, hope and wonder. The child was declared officially dead when paramedics arrived at the checkpoint one hour after his birth.

When the ambulance arrived medical workers assisted Nahil with the rest of her delivery, ensuring the afterbirth was removed and her own health stable. After paramedics operated on the woman, she, the dead child, and her husband, were permitted through the checkpoint for care in the Nablus hospital.

"On the next day," said Mu'yed "we carried our child in a cardboard box from the hospital to bury him in the graveyard of the village. On our way home through the checkpoint , the soldiers started to laugh telling each other " Do you want to see a dead child, come over here. He is there inside the box."

The Israeli army recognized the actions of the soldier who prevented the woman from passing into Nablus as illegal. He is being held in Israeli custody.

Israeli media source said that the Israeli army opened an investigation in the case and decided to dismiss the officer responsible of the checkpoint. Other Israeli sources said that the Israeli military court decide to detain the Israeli officer for 28 days and to transfer him to another military post.

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