Palestinians react following tear gas that was shot by Israeli forces after Friday prayer on a street outside Jerusalem’s Old city July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – When Muslim elders called for a “Day of Rage” on Friday to protest at new Israeli security measures at Jerusalem’s holiest site, photographer Ammar Awad knew where he had to be.
A native of Jerusalem who has covered the city for Reuters for 17 years, Awad headed to Ras al-Amud, directly across the valley from the Old City, from where the Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock stand out in the near distance.
Knowing there were likely to be clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian worshippers, and that Muslims intended to pray in the street outside, he climbed up to the roof of a nearby mosque to gain a higher vantage point.
“I know all these areas and the people know me, so it helps,” said Awad, 36, explaining how he managed to gain access to the mosque, which was shut by the imam to ensure that the faithful held their prayers outside.
“I was on the roof and took lots of pictures of the men praying in the street, with the Old City and the Dome of the Rock in the background,” he explained.
“After they finished praying, they started shouting ‘Allah wa-Akbar’ and some were chanting “I will sacrifice myself for al Aqsa” in Arabic. The Israeli police started to explode sound bombs to disperse the crowd.
“I was going to come down, but I decided to stay and see what more pictures I could get.”
As the sound bombs erupted, many of those who had been praying started to run. Others were still completing their prayers as the scene turned chaotic.