Arab from the North? You can't enter Jerusalem

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The heavy security around Jerusalem in the wake of the recent Arab riots appeared to get a little bit out of hand on Thursday when Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Israel, Walid al-Omari, and two of his crew members were initially denied entrance to Jerusalem, because "Arabs from the North aren't allowed into the capital." The three, residents of northern Israel who hold Government Press Office cards, were traveling from Ramallah to the capital and were held up for some two hours at the Hizme checkpoint on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem after border policemen told them the seemingly bizarre order they had been given. Eventually, the policemen told the Al-Jazeera crew a mistake had been made, and the journalists were allowed to pass through the checkpoint. "It was astonishing and strange," Omari told Israel Radio. "They told us we weren't allowed to pass because Arabs from the North cannot enter Jerusalem. "We just wanted to go to our office in west Jerusalem." He said that when the border policemen realized their mistake, "we received no apology." Omari said the three were planning to cover the visit of US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.