I worked a 16 hour shift from Monday night to Tuesday afternoon this week covering the Jewish fast day of Tisha B’Av (lit: The 9th of Av, a date in the Jewish calender). The 25 hour period, one of only two such long fasts in the Jewish year, commemorates the destruction of the Holy Temple in its first iteration in 587 BCE, and in its second iteration in 70 CE.
I began the night with a group of right wing nationalist-religious activists who march with huge numbers of flags every year from Independence Park in West Jerusalem, around the Old City through Palestinian East Jerusalem, and end up at the Western Wall (one of the retaining walls of the mountain on which the Temple stood, now home to The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque.) A small group breaks off each year to try to march to the Temple Mount itself, and are each year rebuffed.
This year’s march was particularly tense, because for the first time in its history it was allowed to go on during Ramadan, the Muslim period of praying and fasting that sometimes overlaps with Tisha B’av. A heavy police escort separated the Jewish political group from the much larger groups of Muslims returning from prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque. At one point the two groups chanted “The nation of Israel lives!” and “God is great!” at one another in Hebrew and Arabic respectively.
Palestinian youths listened to a hard-right parliamentarian’s speech to the Jewish crowd.
A group of girls peeked into the men’s section.