Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So, I'm coming up on the end of my first week interning with the AP. So far it's been pretty slow, but my editor warned me that this holiday week would be just that. But, I still did some fun work:
  • This is a story about tensions around the Temple Mount at the beginning of this past week. I did some of the contributing reporting from the Old City (you'll see my name at the bottom).
  • This was my first official byline, which got picked up by the Toronto Star, about some ruins in southern Israel that were vandalized (It still sounds odd to me - sources kept saying "destroyed ruins"...). I also did another short brief the next day about two men arrested in connection with the destruction, though our news briefs don't carry bylines.
  • Here's another short brief about a civilian plane accidentally entering Israel's nuclear reactor site...

There's been a lot of chatter in Jerusalem recently about "riots," "outbursts of violence", and so forth. From what I can tell, things here already snowball quickly, and the local media can push things out of control even faster. This past weekend there have been a couple of incidents at the Temple Mount site, where Muslim men were turned away from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and some (predominantly teenagers) responded by throwing rocks, bottles, etc. at Israeli police. By Monday, the start of the Jewish Sukkot holiday, thousands of additional Israeli security had been dispatched to Jerusalem, expecting some grand outburst of violence.

The only thing is, that outburst never happened. And thousands of Jewish worshipers made their way to the Western Wall site (right below the Muslim holy site) and celebrated the start of the holiday without a hitch.

Here are some shots I took while at the Western Wall:

Though there were a couple scuffles, mostly outside of Jerusalem, everything was relatively calm in the city. The result was a massive bump in police presence, for what in reality only amounted to the arrest of a dozen-or-so teenage boys for throwing rocks.

But by reading some of the reports, you would thing Jerusalem was once again a hotbed of violence. Knowing how volatile this region can be, it's unbelievable that some local (and even international) media started throwing around phrases like "third intifada" so haphazardly. Things are tense enough already in this city. It'll be unfortunate if something larger and more dangerous grows out of something so small as a result of the past couple weeks of coverage.

Anyway, here are some photos I from the past few days that I like, both from Jerusalem:

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