Today was “Land Day” – the annual commemoration of events in 1976 when 6 Israeli Arab citizens were killed during protests against security-related land expropriation. It is now marked by Palestinians and their sympathizers all over the world. I had agreed to take my friend Ashley on a jaunt through the Old City and only realized that it was Land Day when we arrived at Damascus Gate and were greeted by a massive Israeli Security presence. Soldiers and police were everywhere and all access points were controlled. “So much for my relaxing day” I thought to myself. Ashley, who is visiting from Fresno on her first visit to Israel asked if this was normal. “No, not really…” and then I explained Land Day to her. We made our way to the Kotel and things were relatively quiet for a Friday. We saw some Israeli Border Police praying at the Wall – probably hoping for no violence:
Well it seems their prayers were answered. As we made our way back to the Light Rail station at Damascus Gate we ran right into a protest march. The protesters, who numbered less than 100, were outnumbered by photographers and journalists who themselves were outnumbered by the police and border guards. The rally lasted all of maybe 10 minutes and dispersed quickly. The Jerusalem Post reported scattered clashes in Eastern Jerusalem, Bethlehem and at the Kalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah.
Lana Hamadeh, a Palestinian-Canadian from Ottawa, listed demands being made as part of the protest. One of nine delegates in the Canadian Global March to Jerusalem mission, Hamadeh said she and other protesters were demanding “the right of return for Palestinians and the protection of Jerusalem.” … “Non-Jewish holy sites are at risk and the city itself is being ethnically cleansed,” she told The Jerusalem Post. “We are asking for our right to re-enter Jerusalem and reclaim it for everyone, not just for Jews.”
I have no idea what Lana Hanadeh is talking about. I went by the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, built on the Temple Mount and things seemed fine. We were by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the worshipers worshiped freely. But whatever. Facts just distort things apparently…
Up North, the Lebanese Army prevented protesters from approaching the border and nothing out of the ordinary happened there either. All in all it was a pretty undramatic day. Thankfully… Anyhow, Shabbat Shalom!