The conflict in Gaza has reached Jerusalem in more ways than one. This morning, heavy security surrounded the Old City and denied entry to the majority of local Arabs. Israeli forces anticipated and attempted to curtail protests, but in doing so, they stopped young Muslim men from worshipping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In protest, and to get as close to the mosque as possible, a group of men prayed in the street just outside the blockade.
Also affected were children seeking treatment at the Spafford Children's Center. Mothers were calling frantically from the security checkpoint, trying to get help crossing, but there was nothing that the center could do. Spafford, along with most of the normally bustling Arab Quarter, was a ghost town today.
The quiet of the neighborhood made later events seem all the more dramatic. The evening call to prayer competed with the sound of air raid sirens going off across the city. For the first time, a rocket from Gaza reached the outskirts of Jerusalem. I very clearly heard and felt the explosion, although it was far off to the south.
To be clear, I have no intention of leaving Israel early. Although Jerusalem may now be in the crosshairs, the chances of being hit by a rocket are far less than being hit by a car. I'm not worried, at least not for myself. The children on both sides are the real victims, and my job is to articulate and share their perspectives. There will naturally be some risk, but what's happening now is pure terrorism. When and if there's a real threat to my life, I'll act accordingly and probably head straight for the airport.
Finally, I've been getting a lot of questions about my time in Gaza. Honestly, I'm still working on putting the experience into words. There's a lot that's hard to articulate, and some things that I'm not sure can be conveyed at all. I hope that the photos combined with the children's drawings will say what I can't. You'll just have to be patient and wait until they're ready to be shown.