JERUSALEM, June 5 (JMCC) - Fresh from Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque, women led the protesters. Their voices were raucous with passion as they set the slogans, the Turkish flag flying high over the crowd.
Their message was support for the Turkey’s reaction to Monday’s Gaza flotilla
attacks, and with it, angry condemnation of other Arab governments’ lack of action.
Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the peaceful civil protest at Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem
’s Old City.
“We are against Mubarak and against Abdullah; we are against all the Arab leaders,” said one Palestinian protester, “They have not done anything.”
SUPPORT FOR TURKEY
The Turkish government reacted strongly to the Israeli navy’s Monday raid of a Turkish-flagged Gaza
bound aid ship and killing of nine activists. In the six days since the attack, relations between it and the Israeli government have become increasingly tense.
On Friday Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc announced that ties with Israel
may be reduced to a minimum.
This Turkish response is popular among Palestinians. “From Jerusalem to Istanbul, we are with you,” Friday's protesters chanted.
“All of us support the Turkish government because of its humanitarian help and all the people coming from Europe to help the Palestinians” said Mohammed, who attended the protest.
A WEAKENING AUTHORITY
Frustration was also directed at the Palestinian Authority
’s suppression of planned strikes in Ramallah on Thursday.
“Everywhere in the world is protesting except for in the West Bank
-- it should be the opposite way round,” said Yussam, who came to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque with the Turkish flag hidden in his gown for the protest. “If you can’t protest, you can’t express your opinion,” he said.
Concerned about demonstrations over the flotilla attack, and the eve of the 43rd anniversary of the 1967 war, Israel closed the Al Aqsa mosque to male Palestinians below the age of forty.
The old city was thick with policemen and soldiers. ID cards were checked at Damascus Gate, leaving frustrated young men to pray by police barriers. Fights broke out at the Muslim entrance to Haram al-Sharif, as the crowd surged.
Omar Al-Shoubaki lives in Jordan and came to Israel to pray. “I applied weeks before to obtain this permit from the Israelis, and today they will not let me enter,” he said.
Frustration and nervous tension was evident. Nonetheless the violence expected by Israeli police, evident in the heavy military presence, never materialized.