Posts Tagged ‘stabbing’

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Weekly Update: 2/14/10

February 14, 2010

PA Corruption Scandal

Well, there is a lot of things going on this week…the biggest news is this mass corruption scandal in the PA. Apparently the head of the anti-corruption office in the PA was fired over some petty fight and in reaction he gave a lot of information, tapes and video tapes to an Israeli group who should publicize one piece of corruption a day until Abbas and the PA get their act together and get rid of corruption.

They don’t think there’s anything in it about Abbas specifically but theres stories like someone in the PA in charge of buying land for a project …when he asked for money he put it in dollars instead of shekels (over one million) and kept the difference for himself. And of course there is supposedly a sex tape as well.

Sometimes I can’t decide who is better, Hamas or Fateh? Even though Hamas has its issues, it doesnt coordinate with Israel and it doesnt have the same level of corruption as far as I know. Maybe they would if they could…haha.

PA as Israel’s Enforcer in the West Bank

Anyways I was reading a book a friend of mine’s, Ahmed, brother wrote (half of their family is in Gaza, and he is the one who wrote the story “A story that needs to be told” thats in the ‘notes’ section on my facebook–its about their whole family being split between West Bank, Gaza, and England–without the chance to see eachother) The book–called Remember Gaza– was about the Gaza war. He wrote it from the perspective of someone who has family down there, and can only watch and wait.

Its a really powerful book and it reminded me of some weird things that went on at that time too. There were lots of demonstrations in Ramallah during the war and the PA security would always be there. At first I thought they were participating. But then I realized they were doing ‘crowd control’ to make sure it didnt get to the point where demonstrators went to any checkpoints to throw stones.

Ahmed was telling me the other day that he went with a big group of friends walking one night in the general direction of Beit El (a settlement on the outskirts of Ramallah). He said they were just going somewhere they could drink a beer without getting in trouble (theres lots of fields and land between the settlement and the city).

On the way, some PA army guys came over to them and asked them if they were going to throw stones at the settlement. They said no…but the soldiers kept interrogating them and saying “shame on you for going to throw stones!”. Then they arrested the kids and beat them up a little bit in the police station! This is the PA. And thats why everyone thinks they are collaborators with Israel, Israel’s puppet.

Even my friend who is a captain in the PA is getting fed up with the PA—because after that last incident where the IDF came and assassinated 3 men in Nablus who were at some point associated with the Al Aqsa brigades (but had nothing to do with the settler stabbing)–the PA basically arrested Wajdi and anyone else who was ever associated with the Al Aqsa brigades. They wouldnt let him leave Al Muqata or talk to anyone on the outside. So he just wants to finish the PA now…

“Terrorist Attacks”

There were a couple of “terrorist” attacks on soldiers this week. One for sure was real–a man stabbed a soldier while he was sitting in his jeep. He was arrested afterwards. Then the checkpoints went up all over the West Bank…ha.

A day or two later, there was another supposed attack. But in this case theres no injured or dead soldier, just a dead Palestinian. So I think maybe it was a random revenge attack….because there is usually at least one person killed at a checkpoint ever few weeks. And usually the eyewitness accounts dont match the Israeli official report. Hmmm….?

Bil’in

In Bil’in this week all of the villagers wore Avatar masks to the wall–because in the movie the aliens planet was being colonized by the humans. They are so funny and creative in Bil’in. And next week is their 5 year anniversary of the protests. So I will be going back to Bil’in next Friday for sure…

Nabe Saleh

I went again to Nabe Saleh even though its getting crazier and crazier. But we had a car this week from a friend and everyone wanted to go there instead of Bil’in so I caved to peer pressure, hahaha. Anyways, it was so strange this week.

Since Nabe Saleh started protesting, the Israelis have been setting up new temporary checkpoints around the West Bank and blocking the main roads that go to villages that protest. So we always have to drive for an extra 20 or 30 minutes to get to Nabe Saleh, which is like 15 minutes from Ramallah. Its funny, on the way back from the protest we drive for about 20 minutes and then come around the bend right in front of Nabe Saleh, again. Hahaha….its ridiculous.

So anyways, we drove into the village and there were no soldiers anywhere. We all have teargas masks now–thanks to Israels policy of giving out gasmasks to everyone outside the Green Line–which includes some friends of mine (Palestinian) who loaned them to us. Hahaha…..so ironic!

We waited for the protestors to come down from the center of the village and I watched from my spot at the gas station as they marched down the road way past where the soldiers usually stop them. Now we were confused! hahaha, what do we do if there are no soldiers? We win???

So they all marched off the road down a valley to get to their land–which is the purpose of the protest–to get to their spring that the settlers took over a month ago.

My roommate and I climbed on the mountain overlooking the valley where they were marching in the direction of the settlement across the highway. On the opposite mountain, there were about 30 settlers sitting and watching the protest. At first they were marching down the hill and we thought they were going to clash with the Palestinians, but instead they ended up making a BBQ. ha.

So the army jeeps pull up on the highway…cars are still driving by through all of this. The villagers make it to the highway but the soldiers stop them from crossing it by shooting LOTS of teargas, the teargas cannon, rubber coated steel bullets and soundbombs.

After a while, the border police drive up in vans for arresting protestors and taking them away. Luckily, no one got arrested!

Eventually, half of the jeeps drove back to the bottom of the road leading out of the village where there is a small checkpoint and watch tower–a little further down than where the protest usually happens on that road.

Then most of the protestors in the valley by the highway moved back up to the road and split the protest in half. After that, we walked back and did a few interviews with some villagers in their house. This family owns some of the land that was confiscated by the settlers. They said one day they went to their land and the settlers were on it making a BBQ and swimming in the spring. The Palestinians asked them what they were doing there and they said, “Oh we just want to swim in the spring sometimes”.

The next time they went to their land the settlers were there again, with shovels–pretending to work on the land. The Palestinian who owned the land asked them to leave. And the settlers came at him with the shovels and threatened to hit him. After that, the settlers were a constant presence at the spring and the villagers can’t use it anymore.

The ‘father’ of their family, because they are the ones who own the land and have the most to be angry about, is not allowed to be in the village at all on Friday afternoons. Hes 60 years old. And the IDF comes to take him somewhere else every Friday.

Its such a messed up situation.

I had some really good videos from the protest but unfortunately I got robbed Friday night in Jerusalem. Someone took my wallet, camera, mp3 and maybe some other things I havent realized yet…

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How to Create a Terrorist

November 5, 2009

Lazar Simeonov: How to Create a Terrorist…

Going from Ramallah to Jerusalem by bus should only take about twenty minutes, but since Israel constructed the separation wall it usually takes up to one hour.

In addition to the wall one has to negotiate Kalandia checkpoint, a hi-tech airport/border security style military facility. Everyone has to disembark from the bus, pass through the checkpoint and, assuming that everything went as planned, get back on the bus on the other side of the wall and continue on their journey to Jerusalem.

The last Sunday of October 2009 it took me and a friend who was accompanying me more than three hours because of a dramatic incident that is going to change one girl’s life forever.

After getting out of the bus, we arrived at the checkpoint’s entrance and went through a narrow, barred passageway that could be the entrance to hell. Then we passed through the first turnstile under the watch of a bored looking Israeli security guard and several sophisticated video cameras, and entered the heart of the checkpoint, it’s security area—where you are trapped until the Israeli soldiers allow you to exit.

To do so, you have to proceed through several steps. The first is going through one of the six lanes, where you have to pass through a second turnstile before arriving at the lane’s “checking area”. There you have to put all your belongings through an x-ray machine, walk through a metal detector, present an identity document to a teenage Israeli soldier sitting in the lane’s control room behind bullet-proof glass.

Of course, you can only pass if you have a foreign passport with a valid Israeli visa, an Israeli passport, a “Palestinian Blue ID” (for Palestinians who live inside the current borders of Israel but not in Jerusalem) or a “Palestinian Jerusalem ID” (for Palestinians who live in Jerusalem).

This means that the vast majority of Palestinians living in the West Bank, who hold a “Green ID”, are not allowed to cross the checkpoint and go to Jerusalem. However, even if you have all the needed documents and everything goes right until that point, you are still at the whim of whichever young, generally female, soldier who is present in the control room that day.

If she denies you because she just had a fight with her boyfriend on the phone or for any other arbitrary reason, you must turn around and do the “walk of shame” through the turnstile that you just came from.

The time it will take only depends on the mood of the security guard who has to unlock the turnstile so that you can take it in the opposite direction—I’ve seen people waiting there for more than ten minutes while the security guard was having a snack or playing a game on his mobile phone.

After this, you’ll end back where you came from, i.e. on the Palestinian side of the separation wall. On the other hand, if you are allowed to pass the “checking area”, you still need to go through two more turnstiles before finally reaching the exit of the checkpoint.

My friend and I had made it to the step where we had to wait in the lane that should have brought us, with a bit of patience, to the other side. That day, as is the case most of the time, only two out of six lanes were open—that of course makes the waiting time even longer. We had been waiting there for a few minutes when a Palestinian girl (Sumud Karajeh, 21 year old, from the Saffa village and student at the Al-Quds Open University) put her shoulder bag through the x-ray machine and showed the soldier her identity card.

The soldier said something in Hebrew, which the girl couldn’t speak, over the loud speaker, in a shrill, irritating and robotic voice. The girl, confused, answered something in Arabic, which the soldier couldn’t speak either.

After what seemed like five minutes of this improbable dialog they somehow managed to communicate and the girl understood that the soldier wanted her to put the shoulder bag through the x-ray machine again. So she did it two more times while being continuously verbally affronted by the soldier over the loud speaker.

After that, the soldier started yelling at the girl, who still couldn’t understand Hebrew. So not knowing what she was supposed to do she started to get really uncomfortable and nervous.

At this point, a Palestinian man who had just arrived at the lane said that he also spoke Hebrew and that he could translate. The soldier let him through the second turnstile, they talked for a minute and he said to the girl that she had to put her bag through the x-ray machine one more time.

After another passage of the bag through the x-ray machine, the soldier ordered the girl to empty it out in front of the window so that she could check what was inside. So, the girl, irritated and stressed, took out each object she had in her bag, including several school books and notebooks, showed them to the soldier and put them on the ground.

The soldier still wasn’t satisfied and asked the girl to take out the lining of her purse. The man who was translating did it and found something that looked like a swiss knife stuck in the bottom of the lining. That was it, the reason why all this had happened was a simple swiss army knife—similar to ones that can be bought in hundreds of shops across Jerusalem.

At that point the Palestinian girl became really angry because of this young soldier humiliating her for more than fifteen minutes in front of all the people waiting in the lane just for having a swiss knife in her bag. And then, three strong, intimidating looking Israeli soldiers wearing bulletproof vests and carrying assault rifles entered the security area and surrounded the girl.

Now she looked really scared. One soldier x-rayed the bag again and started going through it, item by item, while another passed the swiss-knife through the x-ray machine.

The few foreigners waiting in the line with all the Palestinians couldn’t believe what they were seeing. A German man and I said that we almost always carry a swiss knife on us and that it had never been a problem at a checkpoint so far, while the Palestinians weren’t surprised and said that such things happened to them all the time.

Suddenly, and to us without apparent reason, the soldiers tackled the girl, threw her on the ground, beat her and put handcuffs around her wrists while she was screaming “Allahu Akbar!”—a phrase that is sometimes used by suicide bombers before blowing themselves up.

We had no idea what happened, but in response to this phrase everybody in the lane, except for a man and his child, panicked thinking she might have a bomb on her and ran as far away as they could. This wasn’t as far as most people would have felt comfortable with because everybody was trapped in the security area of the checkpoint.

More soldiers arrived and one started violently pushing, almost beating, the man who had remained with his child in the lane—for no reason, he was just standing there with his back against the wall and arms around his child’s shoulders.

The soldiers then said that the checkpoint was closed and that we had to go back to the Palestinian side of the separation wall through the turnstiles we came from. They also told people not to take photos and tried to grab every digital camera they could see—I fortunately managed to exit the checkpoint before they were able to take mine.

Later in the day we discovered that, according to the Israeli army, the girl had stabbed one of the soldiers in the abdomen, moderately wounding him.

When looking on my laptop at the photos I took during the incident I noticed that, in some of them, one of the three soldiers that surrounded the girl was laying on the ground and something that looks like an opened swiss knife was at the feet of the Palestinian girl… it seems to confirm the official version.

This dramatic incident could have been avoided very easily because the Palestinian girl, a university student and not a terrorist like she was called by some Israeli media in their articles, had no plan to stab an Israeli soldier when she arrived at the checkpoint.

But everything she went through during those thirty minutes in the security area; the confusion, the humiliation, the anger and finally the fear, made her lose her mind and do something horrible that she will now regret and pay for for the rest of her life…

This is just one example of what the Israeli occupation means for the Palestinians and how it affects their everyday lives. Of course that the girl did something crazy and wrong, but how can you expect people to act in a normal way when you continually put them in abnormal situations and treat them like savage animals?

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The Craziest Day Ever….

October 26, 2009

I had the CRAZIEST day yesterday….

Part One: Qalandia Checkpoint

So my roommate Lazar and me are going to Jerusalem to Al Aqsa mosque in the old city because there were clashes all day long between Palestinians and Settlers/Israeli police. The settlers were trying to set Al Aqsa on fire, and the Imam of the mosque used the loud speaker to call all the Muslims to defend the mosque. Then the police cut the electricity to the mosque.

INSIDE the mosque, the Israeli police/military were shooting teargas and sound bombs and the Palestinians blockaded themselves inside the mosque. There were several injured, and the Israeli police beat and arrested several journalists. Afterwards, there were clashes all around Old City between kids throwing stones and Israeli police/military/special forces…..so we wanted to go and document what was happening.

We get to Qalandia, and we’re already pretty late so we’re in a hurry. We get through the narrow, barred passageway, through the first turnstyle, then we get to the lanes where the 18 year old girl soldiers check our passports/IDs. Out of 6 lanes, of course only 2 are open. So we choose the far one….and wait.

Then a Palestinian girl who looks about my age, in a hijab, goes through and puts her purse through the xray machine, walks through the metal detector, and shows her ID to the soldier behind the bullet proof glass. The soldier is screaming at her in a high, shrill voice over the loud speaker in Hebrew–which the girl can’t understand. Finally, after like 15 minutes of just screaming at this poor girl, a man from the line yells to the soldier that he can speak Hebrew and he will translate.

So the soldier lets him through the turnstyle. He goes up and tells the girl the soldier wants her to put her purse through the xray machine again….so she does. And goes back to the soldier who yells at her to xray it again. So she xrays her bag again…then picks it up on the other side and looks at the soldier.

The soldier yells something else in Hebrew, and the man translating says she wants the girl to empty out her bag in front of the window….so she takes out each object she has in her purse, one by one, throws it on the ground, then picks them all up one by one, showing each one to the soldier. The soldier is still not satisfied. She screams to the girl to take out the lining of her purse. So the man translates and pulls the lining inside out so the soldier and see…and there is a swiss knife in the bottom of the lining.

The soldiers starts screaming at this girl, the man says ” ‘adee” (normal)…and the girl looks confused and pissed off by this point. The soldier is screaming at her for having this swiss knife in her bag and not showing it to her….Lazar, standing next to me says he has a swiss knife in his bag, and another internaitonal girl in line says she has one too. “Whats the problem?”

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All of a sudden theres three gorilla sized Israeli soldiers surrounding this girl. The man translating disappears. And the gorillas tell the girl to go to the xray machine and x-ray the bag and the knife again. When the come out on the other side, the gorillas start going through her stuff piece by piece again. Its been a half and hour since this whole scene started. Lazar tries to go take pictures and the soldiers look at him menacingly so he stops.

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Then, all of a sudden, the three gorillas tackle this girl and start beating her and shes screaming. Everyone starts to move back in case they accidently shoot in our direction. Then the girl starts shouting “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!!!” (This is the phrase suicide bombers shout before they blow themselves up…)

So all the Palestinians around me are running to the furthest corner of this cage we are trapped in with this girl who might have a bomb….so me and the 5 other internationals who were already edging our way out because of the guns shoot to the furthest corner we can get too….and there is just one man standing in the lane with a small child. From where I am, I can hear the soldier beating the girl and her yelling and crying.

Then more soldiers rush in from every direction. And some of them start beating the man with the small child who was just standing there. Then a lot of the Palestinians go back into the lane to try to defend this guy and his child. Then the soldiers start pushing and beating the people back away from this area. We all huddle in another corner because we’re still trapped in this part of the checkpoint.

All the internaitonals and some Israeli peace activists who happened to be there start taking pictures of what is happening. Then the soldiers start pushing the people with cameras and threaten to beat or arrest them and try to break their cameras. So we all go back to the corner again, and finally, they unlock the turnstyles and we go back out to the Ramallah side of the checkpoint. From there, I can still see the soldiers beating the man with the small child. I cant see or hear the girl anymore. Then they take the man and the child through to a small room and we dont see them again either……..

After all of this, we waited for like 20 minutes to see what was going to happen. (By the way….the official Israeli statement about the incident that we heard later said that the girl stabbed one of the Israeli soldiers with her swiss knife–“seriously injuring him”. We did not hear anyone yell–like they had been stabbed. We did not see any medics or ambulance come either. )

Later, when we looked at Lazar’s pictures, we saw one where one of the gorillas raised his gun over his head and was about to hit the girl with it, in the background, one soldier is falling backwards and the swiss knife is on the ground….with the “bottle opener” out…not a knife….so I dont know for sure if she stabbed him or not. But if she did I dont think she planned too….she was going through the checkpoint with a guy–maybe her friend, brother, or husband and they were talking through the bars as the soldier was messing with her, and he was trying to keep her calm.

But I think half an hour of this 18 year old bitch soldier screaming at her in a language she can’t understand, messing with her and making her nervous, then having three gorillas with guns pointed at her made her crazy–if she did try to stab this guy, he had on a bullet proof vest and Im sure she couldnt have done much damage with a tiny swiss knife.)

Part Two: Old City, Jerusalem

So after waiting to see if anything else happened at Qalandia, we decided to head on to Jerusalem. Obviously, they had closed down Qalandia after this “terrorist attack” so we got on a bus with some of the other Palestinians from the checkpoint and went through a different checkpoint called Hizma which is half an hour out of our way. We get through that checkpoint and make it to the Old City.

We were trying to find an open entrance to Al Aqsa mosque so that we could see if there was any people still barricaded inside the mosque. Every entrance we tried, the big door was closed and locked (the door to the compound/plaza around the mosque) and in front of that was an Israeli police barricade with soldiers in front. Finally we go to an overlook of the Western Wall where we can see the mosque (since its right beside it) and we can see Israeli special forces climbing on roofs around the mosque.

So we decide to go back and try the one, final entrance we hadnt tried before. When we get over there, its dark by now, and we’re walking down one of the alleyways (the old city is all winding, narrow, alleyways) and we pass a big group of French tourists. As we pass they’re talking in French, and Lazar says the guy said “The soldier said we will be OK if we run through it!” So Lazar and I are like, “Run through what?”

And we keep going up the street until we see a crowd of people in this intersection. Ahead of us across the intersection are Palestinians hiding behind a wall and peaking their heads out every once in a while down the alley. On the right side of the intersection, there is a group of Israeli soldiers in full riot gear with full length shields, in formation like a phalanx or the Roman legions or something like that. Since the road is narrow, they are standing like 5 across and 5 deep, just waiting like that in front of this entrance to Al Aqsa.

Down the alley they are facing, the one that the Palestinians across the intersection keep looking down, about 100 meters away are some shadowy figures of Palestinian kids and teenagers, and they are throwing stones and anything else they can find towards the soldiers. But they are really far away so a stone only makes it to this intersection about once every 5 mintues. The soldiers, behind their riot gear, look very VERY scared. Of kids with stones, 100 meters away. The Palestinians standing around with us are just kind of joking and laughing about it.

We decide to find a better spot to take pictures and to try to get closer to the shabaab (kids) throwing stones down the alley. So Lazar goes around and finds a park area that overlooks the street, just about right in the middle of the whole scene. To out left is a small staircase where Israeli special forces are waiting to run out and go get the kids. They also look very scared. As we’re waiting and taking pictures, three small Palestinian kids join us and Im showing them how to take pictures on my camera when the soldiers to our left run out into the alleyway.

Then they form the phalanx again, and have the shields in the front line of their group and they stop right below us, in formaition. Now the kids down the alley have a closer target and they start throwing stones again. The phalanx moves back a few feet. Then another stone rolls up to them, and they move back a few more feet. The kids tell me , “Hum zay bissat! zay bissat!” (They are like cats) haha the kids were making fun of them for being scared of some kids with stones while these are special forces soldiers in full riot gear with full length shields. Yeah….they should have been really scared.

So they back up all the way to the intersection we were at before and we thought they were going to keep retreating, when suddenly they all run down the alleyway towards the kids with stones. Lazar jumps down into the street and follows taking pictures. The three kids with us follow him, so I follow them and we’re all running down this narrow alleyway with the special forces ahead of us, beating the kids who were throwing stones and a huge brawl there.

Within a few minutes, the street is quiet and the special forces have disappeared to some new dark corner to lurk in….and behind us are the other group of soldiers by the entrance to Al Aqsa, who could shoot teargas or rubber bullets at us at any time, the three kids are still with me, and Lazar has gone forward. Ahead of us, in the shadows, are the figure of three people in masks, plainclothes, and with big guns. On the ground is a Palestinian boy around 15 year old. We think the guys are Palestinian since they’re wearing masks and no uniforms, anyways, I stop with the kids far from this.

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And Lazar goes forward….as he gets closer with his camera, one man in a mask points his gun at Lazar and yells at him to go. So Lazar ducks down a side alleyway and I follow with the children. We hide out there for a minute, then something falls beside me from the roof–its a big metal sheet, then rocks and glass is falling. And we look up to the roof and its a guy in a mask. We think he is Arab and the kids shout up in Arabic, “We’re Arabs! We’re with you! Stop throwing stones at us!” But he keeps throwing stuff at us so we run up the alley way.

We get up the alleyway then try to find a way back down to the street. We find another side street that leads to the street all of this was happening on and we peak our heads out to see whats going on. Down to the right, the first phalanx of Israeli soldiers is still standing there waiting. Down to the left, where the masked men and Palestinian boys were there is no one.

One of the kids with us goes out into the alley and throws a small stone towards the soldiers, but it doesn even make it half way to them. Suddenly, they shoot something at this kid and he runs back to us crying. Hes like 8 years old. I thought maybe they shot him with something because he was holding on to his leg but I didnt see anything and he said he was ok…so we moved back up this side street, trying to find a way out of this mess.

Ahead of us, in this dark alleyway, we see a bright flashlight pointed at us and dark shadowy figures behind it. We dont know what to do. We can’t go back into the street because they will shoot at us, theres guys on the roofs in masks throwing stuff down onto us in the other direction, and up the street is a very scary group of people, standing there silently behind this flashlight. With no other option, and with these three kids, we start slowly walking towards this flashlight.

Its silent, they dont yell or say anything to us, just move the flashlight slowly up and down. So Lazar walks first, slowly and with his hands up in the air, saying “Press!” I follow with the kids and we all have our hands up in the air. As we get closer to the light I can tell its the special forces group, lurking in a new alley. And they dont say anything to us as we pass or even look at us. Then , when we get past them, they charge down the alley way and into the street below. If we had been like 10 seconds later we would have turned up the alley right as they charged. It was really, really scary.

After that we decide, enough is enough, and we try to find our way back to the first intersection….the kids go back to their houses and we make it back to the entrance to Al Aqsa. The soldiers are gone. And everything is quiet. We go back down the street to the spot where the kids were throwing stones from earlier and theres some medics and other Palesitnian men standing around there.

We ask them what happened and they said, “There were just some young kids here, throwing stones down the street. Then they sent in all these soldiers and mustaghribeen (?spelling) which are plainclothes Israeli soldiers –the guys we saw wiht the masks– and they beat up the kids and arrested 3 or 4 of them. Later when we were walking around and talking to people, we met this Palestinian couple.

The man said he was inside the mosque that morning when all of the clashes were happening and the Israelis blockaded them inside. He said they beat a lot of Palestinian journalists, kids, and shot a few people with rubber bullets and wouldnt let the paramedics inside to help them.

Anyways….they expect more problems today because the Israeli settlers keep invading the mosque and trying to set it on fire. So Palestinians go to do a sit in at the mosque to protect it. Then the Israeli police/military escorts the settlers (or “tourists” as the Israeli report says) into the mosque so they can destroy it. Then the Palestinians come out to defend it and there are clashes. Thats pretty much how it works. If the Israelis and settlers would just stay out of Al Aqsa there would be no problems around the Old City. But they keep pushing it.

So yeah, crazy day in Palestine. Lazar is making a photostory about the Old City and making an eye witness article with some pictures about the girl at Qalandia….so make sure to look for them on Palestine Monitor (palestinemonitor.org)