In the pushAs the morning drew to an end, and it became obvious many women wouldn’t get through for midday prayers, the chaos increased and there was more shouting and screaming on both sides. The soldiers and police lost the plot completely; women were pushed, kicked and even punched. Troops in full combat gear ran across the car park, followed by riot police. I couldn’t believe my eyes, the IDF had gone barking mad. Many of the women were elderly.

At midday, when the checkpoint was finally closed, with hundreds of women still waiting beyond the first blocks, the commander says, ‘Well, that went well, don’t you think?’

But when we looked over the car park, we saw a battleground littered with lost shoes, strewn with hijabs, medics attending to the injured, children separated from their mothers, elderly ladies who had started the day so happily in their beautiful dresses sitting dishevelled and distressed, unable to continue. I had to pinch myself to remember that these women were merely exercising their fundamental human right to practise their religion by praying at what was by rights be their own holy place in their own holy city.

I wake up the next day and think I’ve dreamed it. But it’s all on my camera, and my colleague’s video. (Soon to be on Youtube)

But in the end no Palestinians were killed, and no tear gas was used. I suppose that’s what the commander meant. We heard later there had been shooting at Gilo checkpoint, near Bethlehem.

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