Jerusalem, Fri 2.8.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
This morning we intended to reach Damascus Gate via Nevi’im Street, but police were stationed there blocking entry to anyone who didn’t look Moslem. We continued toward the New Gate, but then realized we could reach Damascus Gate from Sultan Suleiman Street, which we did. The crowd was relatively moderate in size. The police were concentrated before the turn to Damascus Gate (vehicle access to Sultan Suleiman Street was blocked). A police vehicle used to disperse demonstrations also parked there, but as it previous weeks it had nothing to do.
We entered Damascus Gate. There was no police presence in the plaza before the gate. We walked along with the crowd. Police and Border Policemen were stationed primarily at intersections and the turns to the Temple Mount today as well, behind barriers, not among the crowd. Everything appears quiet and peaceful; people flow in slowly. We continued to Lions Gate, and then returned to exit via Herod’s Gate. The police at Herod’s Gate were deployed differently than they were last week, but they didn’t mix with the crowd here either. The flow of people was lighter than it was last week, but still continuous.
Representatives of the media are photographing and talking to people. A Saudi crew approached us. They’d heard about Machsom Watch and asked whether we knew what was happening today at the checkpoints. We couldn’t tell them; we suggested they ask people arriving for prayers. We walked outside the wall to Damascus Gate where the peddlers had begun displaying their merchandise. We entered again and this time walked along HaGai Street and through the Western Wall plaza to Dung Gate. The police at the entrance to the Western Wall plaza asked us to remove our Machsom Watch badges.
The plaza itself was fairly empty; we saw only a few Moslems crossing it. Border Police soldiers were deployed near the bridge to the Mughrabi Gate in the event of disturbances, but in general it was quiet. Only a few people were at the Dung Gate so we continued through the Jewish Quarter to David Street where there was again a stream of worshippers heading toward the Temple Mount.
We cut through the Christian Quarter toward the New Gate. There were very few people in the area and only occasional worshippers passed through there. We exited through the New Gate and walked outside along the wall back to Damascus Gate. About ten police horses stood on the grass in the shade. We didn’t see them this week patrolling along the road. There are many security forces in this area, but in the Damascus Gate plaza there were only worshippers, peddlers and TV crews. The atmosphere remained calm. We left at around 12:15.