This is the 2nd part of my diary. From now on, I will write one different article for each day of the trip. There is so much to tell!
Today, we are visiting the 3. holiest site of Islam (after Mecca and Medina), al-Haram al-Sharif. Also known as the Temple Mount, it is also venerated by Christians and Jews. Its access is restricted for non-Muslims and only allowed for a few hours each day. al-Haram al-Sharif or "the Noble Sanctuary" is revered by Sunni Muslims as the location of Muhammad's ascent to heaven.
While waiting for the opening of the gate, we assist to an interesting ceremony, a Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ritual for boys. The boy and its family are accompanied by musicians and photographs all the way until the gate to Western Wall (directly besides the entrance to the Temple Mount). The boy himself seems embarrassed and don't enjoy it at all. The contrast between this traditional parade and the boy with its Deadpool T-shirt is great!
10 minutes before the opening time, a group of Israelis push themselves forward, ignoring all the other people already waiting for more than 1 hour! My wife try to say something, but they completely ignore her...
As the gate opens, we have to follow a ramp up to the actual entrance gate to the Temple Mount itself.
This plaza is home to the al-Aqsa Mosque and the beautiful golden Dome of the Rock. Before being able to visit this huge flat area, Kumiko and our friend Petra have to wear stinky long clothes to hide their legs and shoulders. It's so stupid and unfair espacially as the reckless Israelis from the queue don't have to wear anything and just stroll around protected by a squad of armed soldiers!
The Temple Mount is a very impressive place, but as non-Muslims, we can't go inside the mosque or the dome. Outside, it's very hot, without any shadows. That's why we don't stay very long on the plaza and go back to the Old City through one of the 10 gates reserved for Muslims (non-Muslims can only use them to leave the Temple Mount, but not to enter it...).
On the evening, we cook at our friend's place (great barbecue and excellent mixed salad with pomegranate) and then go a for a ride to the Mount of Olives, home to the biggest Jewish cemetery and according to the bible where several key events in the life of Jesus happened. The view upon the Old City of Jerusalem, especially at night, is gorgeous!
Then, as a last stage for today, our friend T. bring us to French Hill, near an Israeli settlement (as usual illegal under international law) in East Jerusalem. From there, we have a good view upon one of the refugee camp. We can also see the Israeli West Bank barrier (also known as the Apartheid Wall), considered by Israel as a security barrier against terrorism. From the Palestinian point of view, it's a segregation wall isolating furthermore the Palestinians and fragmenting what should be the future State of Palestine.