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Al-Aqsa protests unite Jerusalemites

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No one expected that the ongoing protests in Jerusalem over the Israeli restrictions placed on the entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, would become the nucleus of a new movement for Jerusalemites.

Like most popular revolts, it began with a community acting in a defiant way because they could no longer take the humiliation endured on a day-to-day basis. It was a work in progress that quickly found a solution to a pressing problem, which was then implemented.

Mohammed Daraghmeh, a media trainer at Birzeit University and a prominent analyst of Palestinian affairs, wrote in a July 22 post on his Facebook page that what was happening in Jerusalem bore all the hallmarks of a new intifada. “It was a popular movement in that entire families participated in the daily prayers outside the restricted mosque’s gates. People figured out how to deal with highly political issues as well as with basic mundane but necessary issues like food and water, and at the same time were keen on creating rotating committees that took care of the cleaning afterward.”

East Jerusalem’s 350,000 residents have for years been leaderless, as Israel prevents the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah from having any serious engagement with them. Since the 1993 Oslo Accord, which postponed dealing with Jerusalem, Israel has worked to isolate Jerusalemites from their national leadership. The Palestinian government is unable to visit or to hold meetings in Jerusalem and, most........

© Al Monitor