Farrah El-Jayyousi (Columbia, Missouri)
I don't have many words, but I certainly have a lot to process. We met with a few organizations in Ramallah yesterday: including Al Haq (legal rights) and Addameer (Palestinian prisoner support).
In the morning we heard that the metal detectors and security cameras at the gates to Al Aqsa had been taken down and we celebrated. In the afternoon we heard that it was open for Asr prayer. And then we heard that as people were leaving the prayer, they found that Israeli police had closed all the gates, and it was at this point that they started firing rubber coated bullets (not as gentle as they sound - they can be lethal) and tear gas into the crowd of worshipers as they tried to leave.
As we got closer to our hotel, we saw people flooding out of the gates of the old city and in front of us a truck carrying skunk water - heading towards the old city.
As we approached our hotel on foot - BANG!
It came from Al Aqsa. We don't know if it was gunshots or tear gas, but several more followed in the next 20 minutes.
I feel overwhelmed, sick to my stomach, determined, tired, and resolved to pray at Al Aqsa, the third holiest mosque in Islam, with my fellow brothers and sisters, in safety, before I leave this sacred place.
I hope I will be able to put today into coherent words at some point, but tonight - tonight there are no words.