Visit to Al-Aksa and Dome of the Rock

by Barbara Hanst
Friends of Sabeel-Colorado Fact-Finding Trip, 2016

Normally this would have been the agenda for our first full day and what happened yesterday would have taken place on the second day (visiting the refugee camp, etc).  The order was reversed because of celebrations of Israel's Independence Day and what that would do to traffic in Jerusalem.

While this day was considerably easier emotionally, it was quite demanding physically because of all the walking we did, often using uneven cobblestone streets, and climbing up and down many steps.
 
We began with what was most bucolic:  a visit to the Church of All Nations, built on the Mount of Olives and adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Serene.  We then proceeded to the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, holy places for Muslims.  Because of Naim, we were able to enter both of these holy sites, quite unusual.  The tranquility and beauty was marred by seeing bullet holes from a previous military confrontation I think occurred when Ariel Sharon, accompanied by approximately 300 soldiers, stormed the arwa trying to claim it for Jews also.  Nineteen were killed during the clash and many more injured, prompting the beginning of the Second Intifa