High above Jerusalem's crowds, skating the Old City rooftops

Suheir Sheikh and Ammar Awad
·1-min read

By Suheir Sheikh and Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - High above Jerusalem's narrow medieval alleyways, teenage Palestinians sped across whitewashed roofs and soaked up the light and space denied to them during a six-week Israeli COVID-19 lockdown.

A small handful who lived in the Old City were able to practise their moves long before the spice merchants below reopened their doors. They were joined after the lockdown eased by a couple of dozen friends from other parts of East Jerusalem who relished the chance to release pent-up frustrations.

"During coronavirus (lockdown) we weren’t able to go out and skate or do anything," said Baha’Shweiki, 17, from the al-Turi neighbourhood. "We have been waiting every day to get the opportunity to go out."

With few training resources and little space in East Jerusalem, most learn their skills from YouTube.

But the rooftops are rutted and they often tumble over ventilation shafts and guttering.

So sometimes the group - most boys but with some girls - cross over into West Jerusalem to practise in a purpose-built park used by Israeli skateboarders, with ramps and runs far smoother than they are accustomed to.

"We saw that there are Arabs who skateboard, so we decided to do it too, try it and improve," said Shweiki.

(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; editing by John Stonestreet)