Throughout the years, I have often visited the Old City of Jerusalem, and I have never seen such a large number of armed Israeli soldiers there.
They stand at every street corner, patrolling alleys and fenced-in posts every few meters.
Every single Israeli official has a long rifle hanging from their shoulders, a taser gun in a hip holster, a club in their backpack, shackles hanging from their belt, a helmet held close to their chest, as well as knee guards on both legs to squat easily and neutralize whoever they face. Moreover, they wear a ceramic bullet-proof vest.
“This is the worst time for us,” says a Palestinian who sat with me on the steps in front of the Damascus Gate. “If you come in the evening you will realize what they’re doing to us here”.
However, although it was still daytime, I could still feel that this is an extremely difficult time for Palestinians.
In Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli soldiers carry out regular detentions, endless inspections, searches of bags and pockets, as well as body searches.
Just for a quick moment, I could experience what Palestinians regularly go through. A tourist from Jordan was complaining to me because Israeli police did not let him enter the Al-Aqsa compound. I could barely understand why, as the man hurried away. The Israeli policeman, however, became upset because, in his view, I was showing sympathy for the tourist and decided to detain me.
He took my ID, checked it on his computer, and stuck his hands into my personal bag, messing up everything it contained. Then, he made a phone call. He asked for instructions on what to do with me and then, I was released. At least, I was spared the body search Palestinians always undergo when they are detained.
Soon after, I walked to one of the gates leading to the Al Aqsa compound, but I heard that Jews could only enter from the Mughrabi Gate.
When I asked a Palestinian man the reason behind this religious separation, he told me that at the Mughrabi Gate, only a limited number of people are allowed in. Therefore, if a riot breaks out within the compound, Israeli police know exactly how many Jews are present and how many people must be saved. “They only save people like you,” the Palestinian man told me.
(Translated by Tal Haran)
(The Palestine Chronicle)