Every Friday for the past two months now, there are pitched battles between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem.
But what makes these battles unique is that on one side are the Israeli soldiers and police, with their assault rifles, barricades, tear gas, water cannons, “skunk” machines and assorted weapons, and on the other side are Palestinians, unarmed, without even stones to throw at their Goliath. The only weapons these Palestinians carry with them are their prayer rugs.
Palestinians – men, women, youth, and elders – walk miles attempting to reach Al Aqsa Mosque, trying every gate. Each path is blocked by Israeli guns and barricades.
Palestinians hear the call to prayer, put down their prayer mats, and pray as close to the holy site as possible. Israeli soldiers and police then attack the worshippers.
The next week these same acts are repeated.
Israeli authorities have now issued demolition orders for the housing complex where the Imam of Al Aqsa, 84 year old Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, lives, in apparent collective punishment and retaliation for encouraging Muslims to pray at Al Aqsa, or as close as they can get.
For those who have criticised Palestinians for a lack of commitment to nonviolence, or otherwise hypothesized the end of nonviolent resistance among Palestinians, one need only follow the voice of the muezzin in the Old City of Jerusalem to see the creative, steadfast, courageous, living embodiments of peace and grace under pressure—the noble worshippers of Al Quds—who, week after week, face down an army with a prayer.