A mother’s nervous breakdown

It took me some time to collect the bits and pieces of this tragic story.. My sources are I.T.’s husband, a doctor, three of her neighbors and friends. It is a story of the erosion of humanity and utter senselessness. I.T.’s story demonstrates that a human being can be killed twice: once psychologically and then physically. The tragedy starts like this:

I.T. is a married woman with three young daughters of 5 and half years, 3 and half years, and 6 months. I.T. and her husband are originally from Nablus and have no family in Ramallah except a sister-in-law, married with no children, in downtown Ramallah. After their marriage, 8 years ago, I.T. and her husband moved to Ramallah. I.T. graduated as a pharmacologist, and was always known as a quiet, sharp, and intelligent woman. She finished many courses in French and Hebrew and she speaks very good English. Her husband finished 13 years of study in England as an optician and lenses expert. He runs a very successful business. I.T runs her own pharmacy with two other assistants who come from nearby villages.

A few weeks before the re-occupation of Ramallah, I.T. was obliged to liquidate her pharmacy. Her assistants were besieged in their villages, and the pharmacy itself was a continuous target for Israeli fire coming from a nearby settlement. The pharmacy was close to a post for the Palestinian National Guard. The pharmacy was hit several times, the window glass was shattered, and it becomes dangerous to be in there. I.T. could not run the pharmacy by herself while she has three little girls in need for her time. She decides to shut down her work. Ramallah was re-occupied on March 29th. Two days later, In I.T.’s neighborhood, the IDF announced with loud speakers that all men from 15-55 should give themselves up. After the third call S., I.T.’s husband who is in his early forties, gave himself up fearing that the soldiers would come to his house and destroy it as they did other houses.

Around 1000 men were gathered in Moughtaribin school, after staying two days under the rain, they have been taken to Ofera settlement, once taken, nobody could know where they are, or how they can be contacted. I.T. was left alone with her three children; she used to get phone calls from friends and relatives. The next door neighbor used to ask if she needs anything, but she always said no. I.T.’s closest neighbor was not able to pay her a visit with snipers on top of the buildings around them. After four days, the curfew was lifted for the first time, O., I.T.’s best neighbor paid her a visit and asked her daughter to stay with I.T.’s children to enable her to go and do some shopping for her family. O. noticed that the girls were neglected and hungry, I.T. was complaining that ‘they took her husband because they want to separate them.” In an attempt to comfort her I told her that they will release them soon, she asked when, I said maybe after one hour or so. She dashed to change and prepare her children to meet her husband. After some time, she got so nervous and blamed me for lying to her. I was surprised, but I realized that she is not okay, psychologically.. I left my house because of the curfew, but asked the down stairs neighbor to shelter her in their house. She did, but no one could have any sleep that night, I.T. kept closing all windows fearing ‘snipers’ would shoot her. She accused neighbors of collaborating with the army to assassinate her and her family. I.T. had a nervous break down it seems.

The next morning O. risked her life and ran quickly to see I.T. in order to comfort her. She left after a few hours, when she saw that I.T. was calmer. The same day at night, I.T started to throw things out of her windows and ran away from her house with her three children bare footed, they want to explode the building, said I.T. I took her to my house, after some time I went to sleep, it was already 2 a.m. After half an hour, my husband came shouting, she is burning the house. She was spilling kerosene on beds and covers, and saying ’ I will demolish the temple over my head and theirs too’. She threw herself over her little baby and it took us a while to get the baby out. We tried to calm her down until 7.a.m, she opened the door and ran away out with her little baby at hand and the other two holding her dress. She dashed into the street cursing Jews and Arabs in Arabic, English, French and Hebrew.

She reached a military check post and some people said that she threw stones at the army. She entered the nearby building of the Red Crescent hospital followed by the army. A doctor checked her and realized that she is suffering from a nervous break down and that she was hysterical. The doctor explained her situation to the soldiers and asked them to inform their colleagues of her case and that they should not shoot at her if they see her wandering in the streets. The doctor called her relatives in Nablus as well as her sister-in-law, but none can come to her aid; all are under curfew.

I.T. left her children and ran to Ramallah hospital, she was kept for awhile, given a shot of sedatives to calm her, but she ran away again to the Red Crescent to look for her children. I.T. came back again to her house with her children in an ambulance. She became very violent. O. asked the next door neighbor to stay with her that night, but it was impossible for anybody to get even one minute of sleep. She was sensitive of blue, rose and black colors imagining that electronic rays are going to explode the house.

O asked the Red Cross and Red Crescent to bring her sister in law to stay with her, they refused saying that the curfew is too tight and they are not allowed to move. The following day, I.T. was screaming to get her husband back, then she took her eldest girl and ran away again, this time she went to President Arafat’s compound to ask him to help her to get her husband out. The compound is besieged by tanks and soldiers. They stopped her, severely beaten her up and broke her hand. The soldiers call an ambulance from Ramallah hospital to take her away.

In the hospital I.T. gave O. a call telling her that she woke up feeling pain everywhere, with broken hand and red spots all over her body but she does not know why or from where. O. talks to I.T.’s daughter who told her’ “The army was beating my mom and I was screaming.” The hospital managed to send an ambulance this time to get her sister in law and drove all of them to I.T.’s house at 7 p.m. I.T. just got worse, though, and her sister in law was afraid. At 6 a.m. O. gets a phone call from the sister in law complaining that I.T. is getting so violent and the girls are screaming. I.T. ran away again, holding a big stone in her hand, smashing their private car and saying that ‘they put cameras inside to explode the car.” We took the stone out of her hand but she ran away again to the Arafat’s compound to help her find her husband.

I.T. arrived to the compound again, but this time she was “welcomed” by 6 bullets in her two legs. O. got a phone call from an Israeli doctor telling her that I.T. is in Haddassa (Ein Karem) hospital and she wanted to get some background information about her. O. does not understand English, she asked the doctor to find someone who can speak to her in Arabic, the doctor did not call back; it seems she did not find someone who can speak to her. I.T gave O. a call telling her that her two legs are in cast and she does not know how she arrive to that place. The girls were left with their aunt, O., and the aunt decided to stop the baby from breast feeding and put her on powdered milk. After ten days of detention, S was released, without any charges of course, to see his family in jeopardy. S. said that I.T. was suffering from a light depression and she was treated once by a specialist. But she was never in such a bad condition. “Did you visit her,” I asked. “Are you joking?! First we are under curfew, second, how can we go to West Jerusalem where her hospital is, I need a permission to go, and who will give it to me now?”, he said.

S. is in contact with ‘Physicians without Borders, and other humanitarian organizations to help him visit his wife. “I just need to show her that I am fine in order to comfort her, she must be now in need of my presence beside her,” says S.

P.S. The names were changed to protect the individuals’ privacy. If anyone needs more information, I have all the details needed and the sources. — Islah Jad