To visit the site, I had to pass through a security checkpoint (they are everywhere in Jerusalem) and show identification establish that I was not a Jewish Israeli. There were several Israelis that day who were allowed to visit, but only the perimeter of the site and they had to be escorted by Israeli soldiers. Over the last few years, the temperature has risen here with outbreaks of violence, mostly perpetrated by extremist right-wing Israelis angry over the Muslim presence on the Temple Mount.
Many Israelis, including moderates, believe that the Muslim presence on the Temple Mount is a desecration to Jewish holy ground. Muslims, on the other hand, were irked by Israeli control of sacred Islamic ground and felt humiliated by the Israeli security impositions. As I walked freely around the
Temple Mount I saw groups of Israeli police and soldiers posted in groups of five or six keeping an eye on things. At one point I came across a Palestinian groundskeeper loudly cursing in Arabic at a group of Israeli soldiers as he emptied rubbish bins.
Butcher Shop, East Jerusalem
There was no escaping the fact that these two deeply aggrieved parties were virtually seething at each other over this patch of intensely disputed holy ground. Like the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this was a zero-sum situation where neither side seemed willing to give an inch. The uneasy truce will likely hold for the foreseeable future, as Israel remains firmly and visibly in control.