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East Jerusalem Clashes Spread to West Bank…Gaza Protests in Solidarity

March 17, 2010

I went to Jerusalem yesterday morning. Mustafa Barghouthi, my boss, was giving a press conference outside the Damascus Gate (the main gate leading to the Muslim quarter of the Old City). We got to Qalandia checkpoint and watched the demonstration there for a little bit. There were about a hundred Palestinian boys in the streets throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers who were stationed by the wall and in the streets of Qalandia refugee camp. I got a little taste of teargas and we went to the checkpoint…

There was only one lane open for walking through and no car lanes open. The soldiers were being extra annoying…we got through and waited on the other side for a service to the Old City. As we drove through Shuafat refugee camp, I didn’t see any protests but I heard that further inside the camp the Palestinians were throwing stones and setting up road blocks to keep out the Israelis.

All around East Jerusalem, in Abu Dees University, Eisawiyyah, and Shuafat camp there were demonstrations against the perceived threat to Al Aqsa.

Basically, there are a LOT of rumors going around about what might happen to the Al Aqsa Mosque–which is the third holiest site in Islam, and also happens to be located on the exact spot where the first two Jewish temples were built. The Jewish people believe that the Messiah won’t come until they build the third temple. That would mean they have to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque first, because the temple has to be built on the same foundations as the first two temples.

This is why Muslims were worried that this plan might be progressing:

1) the opening of the Hurva synagogue in the Jewish quarter of the Old City–this synagogue symbolizes the return of the Jewish people to their land–which could mean Israel, the Old City, or the temple mount. There was also a Rabbinical prediction from a couple hundred years ago that the Hurva synagogue would be destroyed and rebuilt three times, and on the third time they rebuilt it the next day construction would start on the third temple.

To the Palestinians, construction on the third temple means the destruction of Al Aqsa.

2) The ultra-orthodox Jewish people planned a march around the Temple Mount which would end with them placing the cornerstone of the new temple–fortunately the Israeli police forced them to at least delay the march.

3) The new settlement plans for East Jerusalem only strengthen the opinion of many Palestinians that Israel is trying to Judaize Jerusalem so they can have it as their “undivided, eternal capital”.

So this is why so many protests happened over East Jerusalem and West Bank…………so many political things have happened against the Palestinians and no real threat of third intifada occurred, but this is religious. And it seems like that is more of a threat to the Palestinians than loss of land.

Anyways, more people than every before were talking politics, listening to the radio, watching the news, and protesting across East Jerusalem and the West Bank. So Israeli deployed 3000 police and military around the Old City and the PA put special forces on every corner.

The PA is ACTIVELY PREVENTING the Palestinians from expressing their anger and frustration against Israel, occupation, and the threat to the holy sites. There won’t be an intifada while the PA is around, acting as Israel’s enforcers.

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