Jerusalem - Second Friday of Ramadan
A very smooth day.
We arrived slightly before 11:00 and stood at the intersection of Shalshelet and Gai streets, beyond which only Moslems are allowed to pass to the Haram al-Sharif. The flow was constant, and the stream at 11 AM became a torrent at approximately 12:15 PM and it continued until 1:00 PM. Police officers at the intersection sent people who were apparently tourists into Gai Street or back up David Street. They didn’t inspect Palestinians’ documents and we saw many men who definitely seemed younger than 40, but they may have had blue ID cards, or the rules may have changed from last week and men younger than 40 from the West Bank may have been permitted to go up to the Haram. Other than one Palestinian who stopped to speak with us when he saw our Machsom Watch badges, the shift was pretty boring – which was good, of course.
From our experience today, as well as from shifts in previous years at this spot and on the Via Dolorosa, we concluded there’s no need for our presence within the Old City, and it’s enough to stand at the external checkpoints – Bethlehem, Zeitim (Olive), Qalandiya, etc. Because by the time residents of the West Bank reach the Old City they’ve already been inspected at these external checkpoints. Thus, other than in truly exceptional circumstances – for example, the Civil Administration changing the rules (age, also of Jerusalem residents) the previous evening and not everyone learned of the change – there’s no need for a shift within the Old City or near it. For the Secretariat to consider.