An Israeli woman has given birth in a Palestinian hospital - an extremely rare occurrence that won her flowers and a handwritten note from the Palestinian president.
Nisreen Chayedri, who grew up Jewish but converted to Islam, says she was shopping in the West Bank town of Ramallah Wednesday when she went into labor. Her husband, an Arab citizen of Israel, rushed her to the nearest hospital, where she delivered a baby boy.
Israel bars its Jewish citizens from visiting Palestinian areas because of security concerns. Its Arab citizens can, though few use the Palestinian medical system, which is far less developed than the Israeli one. In contrast, Palestinians often seek treatment at more advanced Israeli hospitals for specialized procedures.
The arrival of Chayedri - who speaks only Hebrew and lives in northern Israel - caused a stir at the hospital, though she says she got VIP treatment. A Hebrew-speaking doctor translated for her as she delivered a baby boy, weighing 5 pounds.
Chayedri said she was scared to be in the Palestinian territories for the first time, but was impressed with the hospital. "They treated me very nicely, like a member of the family," she said.
Ramallah's mayor and other local officials visited her in the hospital, she said. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas caught wind of the birth and ordered the hospital not to charge her, said Health Minister Fathi Abu Mughli. Abbas also sent flowers and a handwritten card.
Abu Mughli said the hospital treats patients regardless of religion or nationality and that he hoped the birth would help Israelis and Palestinians build "normal relations that will allow many Israeli patients to come to Palestinian hospitals."
Chayedri said she and her husband named the boy Omri - a name used by both Jews and Arabs.
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