The troubles that surrounded the closing of the Al Aqsa Mosque (which President Abbas called it a declaration of war and which complicate relations with Jordan because the Mosque and East Jerusalem are acknowledged as under Jordanian rule) were the back ground for today’s demonstrations. A Zionist activist who has been advocating demolishing Al Asqa Mosque (the third most holy site in Islam) and building a Jewish temple in its place was shot presumably by an Arab. But the Israeli military later killed a suspect rather than arresting him (wounding him and then killing him at close range before allow an ambulance in), leaving people wondering if they were just using the incident as a chance to target someone they wanted to get rid of. There were planned and unplanned demonstrations in most villages. We went to Qalandiya, a city west of Ramallah. The apartheid wall goes through town and the check point there has been the site of a weekly demonstrations protesting the building of the wall.
The week had been full of many other incidents such as, a Palestinian youth hospitalized by a settler hit-and-run, Israeli forces raided numerous home and took captives in many towns in the West Bank, 10 or so new orders for house demolitions, settlers destroy the traditional communal bread ovens in several villages.
Everyone waited with bated breath on all sides and around the world wondering what would happen. Some hoped for retribution for Israel’s evident attacks on the world accept status quo of the Al Alsqa mosque. Some hoped unrest would give a justification to further efforts to make Jerusalem a more purely Jewish city. Some needed to express their anger, while others were wrapped in fear.
The trip to Qalandiya was uneventful though there were obviously more soldiers on the streets. After prayers youth marched with flags and a banner down the street toward the check point which is still smoke stained from earlier clashes between soldiers and demonstrators. The soldiers fired a half dozen salvoes (typically 24 canisters) of tear gas and use rubber coated steel bullets. The demonstrators set tires on fire and threw rocks at the soldiers by hand and with sling shots. The weather joined in with bouts of heavy rain. In the end the rain seemed to gets its way as the demonstration lost energy on all sides. But not before the Israeli fused some controversial .22 Long Rifle calibre fire. This is fired by snipers designed to take out the legs of demonstrators. Its use would be another violation of Israel’s own rules now that a Judge Advocate ruled that it could no longer be classified as non-lethal (after it was used to kill a number of demonstrators).