The narrow alleyway littered with rocks and smoldering fires in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud is one of the front lines of clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces over rumors that extremist Jews planned to attack a holy Muslim shrine.
It's the fifth day of rioting now in Arab neighborhoods across Jerusalem over the rumors, and today's clashes are the most widespread so far.
In this alleyway, in a scene repeated in other hotspots, youths set metal garbage bins on fire, using them as urban obstacles to hide behind as they fling rocks, concrete chunks and firecrackers at Israeli forces who are stationed around a corner. The forces — khaki-uniformed paramilitary police and black-clad riot police — fire back foam-headed cylinders that cause painful bruising and stun grenades that crack like thunder.
Palestinian Red Crescent medics who wear fluorescent vests and grubby-looking face masks also hang about. One young man is shot in the leg with a foam-headed cylinder and a young medic gives him a piggyback ride, rushing him down the alley to an ambulance parked at the top of the road. It's probably faster than using a stretcher.
It was my vegetable grocer, Ahmed.
The normally blushing young man had ditched his day job serving mostly Jewish customers to hurl rocks at Israeli forces in his neighborhood. He appointed a "guard" — a young man named Dahoud — to lead me and a photographer to the front lines without being harassed. As we arrived, the youths, not used to seeing working women, stopped hurling rocks to stare.
"Why are you loitering like a bunch of prostitutes?" Dahoud yelled at the young men. "It's like you've never been photographed before."
They shuffled away shamefacedly.