Early on a Friday morning, we enter the Muslim quarter of old Jerusalem through Damascus Gate. Arab-owned shops are opening languidly. Some display images of Mecca and Medina, indicating that the owner has been there on pilgrimage. Sounds and smells of a market place are in the air. Girls in hijab and jeans straddle their young siblings across the hip while mama is out buying vegetables or washing clothes. They stare at us. A group of boys kick a football in the narrow, rubbish-infested lane. It bounces across my path, and I hesitate in my step to avoid the missile. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a trio lunge towards me, presumably to grab the array of cameras strung across my neck and shoulder. I side step them and cross into a busy street managing to shake them off. From then on, we are on our guard.
We make our way along an old crumbling wall towards the most celebrated and famous structure in Jerusalem – the Temple Mount. At the arched entrance to the Temple Mount, Israeli soldiers have set up a check-post. We are asked politely to identify ourselves and state the purpose of the visit. Our bags, cameras and documents are studied, and at the end of the interrogation the Israeli officer talks on his radio to his Arab counterpart on the Temple Mount.