While walking along the narrow, busy streets of the Old City in Jerusalem earlier today I heard suddenly some yelling, in Arabic and Hebrew, near one of the passages to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. I quickly ran over and saw a ‘clash’ was taking place between elderly Palestinian women and a couple of Israeli soldiers.
While arguing in Arabic with the soldiers, who were blocking the passage, denying them entry to the mosque, some of the women where inviting bystanding tourists to film and take pictures of the scene and show it to the ‘outside world’.
My Palestinian friend, standing next to me, told me that the soldiers weren’t letting men and women under the age of 50 pass through to the mosque. This has apparently been the rule for some time now. A routine that began about a year ago and takes place from morning to the forenoon where the mosque area is also open for Jews, and some tourists.
The fact that Jews would even want to go in surprised me a bit so I approached some of the nearby standing Palestinians and asked them about it. Some felt that the Jews only wanted to enter to “provoke”, others said that the Jews had begun praying there, for some reason they did not know, and some believed that all this was just “the next step” in their plan to build the new temple.
Whatever the reason, the frustration and anger seemed clear among the Palestinians who did not seem happy about these new limitations on visiting their holy mosque.