Jerusalem - Damascus Gate - last Friday of Ramadan
Last Friday of Ramadan Month
10:30 We arrived at the Damascus Gate (Jerusalem) on the light train (for the two Tel Avivians among us this was our very first ride on it, and we can only hope a similar train will be in operation in Tel Aviv during our life time…). It’s a very hot day.
Endless numbers of people swarming into the Old City – men (over 40), women and many children descending the stairs leading to the gate, apparently at least at the gate itself they are not stopped. This is the last point before the Old City and the Temple Mount (Al Aqsa and Haram Al Sharif mosque compound) and the buses carrying the crowds there arrive one after the after and park, dozens of them, in the large parking areas around the gate. At the same time, many policemen arrive and are stationed in the area, all armed with clubs as well as firearms. One armed soldier stands peeping out one of the narrow openings on the top of the wall around the Old City.
On the stairs here and there Muslim beggar-women are seen, all covered in black (including gloves), abiding by the strictest religious dress code. We also see men in white kaftans and women wearing wide-brimmed hats over their traditional head kerchief. Everything is running smoothly this time, both sides appear to want this situation, and unceasing numbers of Palestinians keep arriving during our whole shift. The prayer is supposed to begin at 12:45, and shortly before 12 noon we see Palestinian hurriedly hopping over the stairs to be on time.
We found a place in the shade and met a Palestinian photographer for Reuters news agency. He explained to us about the holiday itself and about what we were seeing around us. He took this opportunity to tell us about “Fire Sabbath”, the Saturday following Easter when violent quarrels break out between the different Christian denominations…