In Jerusalem, the Esplanade des Mosques reopens after 10 weeks without worshipers

After ten weeks of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Esplanade des Mosques opened overnight from Saturday to Sunday.

Faithful with their faces crossed with sanitary masks, tapes glued on the rugs to separate them during prayer: Esplanade des Mosques reopened Sunday, May 31, after two months of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the day after it died near a Palestinian which caused a great stir.

During the cool and windy night, dozens of Muslims gathered in front of one of the large wooden doors in the enclosure to enter the premises shortly after 3:00 am (00:00 GMT), even before “Azan”, the call to prayer, an AFP journalist on site.

“God is great, we will protect Al-Aqsa with our soul and our blood,” repeated at the entrance the believer greeted by the director of al-Aqsa Mosque, Omar Kiswani, who congratulated them for their patience.

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Known as Haram al-Sharif – “Noble sanctuary” – by Muslims and the Temple Mount of Jews, the Esplanade of the mosques houses the cliff’s dome and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is administered by the Waqf of Jerusalem, a Jordan-dependent organization.

The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque were also opened to believers on Sunday morning after they were closed in mid-March by religious authorities as part of health measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in Jerusalem, a disputed city whose eastern part has been occupied and annexed by Israel since 1967.

The third holiest site in Islam, the mosque’s Esplanade had been closed to the public in mid-March, right at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in the Palestinian territories and Israel.

Vigilance in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus

Since then, Israel has registered more than 17,000 infections in its population of about nine million, including 284 deaths. On the Palestinian side, fewer than 500 cases have been confirmed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, including 3 dead, for a total population of about five million.

For the past ten weeks, the muezzins had called the believers to pray, but at home, even during the holy month of Ramadan that ended last week.

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“At the end of the call to prayer, I say ‘now pray in your homes’ and it tears my heart to pieces,” Firas al-Kazaz, one of Al-Aqsa’s muezzins, told AFP. the family has been in this role for over 500 years.

If the Esplanade, Al-Aqsa Mosque and Klippdalen were reopened on Sunday, the authorities remained vigilant in an attempt to prevent the spread of the corona virus.

The staff thus provided sanitary masks to the believers who did not have them, others took the temperature of people who entered the house. And on the red prayer mats, strips of white tape were glued at intervals to maintain physical distance during prayer.

Disabled Palestinian man killed by Israeli police

Israeli soldiers deployed nearby were also on duty on Sunday as the resumption of this holy site of Islam comes the day after the death, just in the old city of Jerusalem, by a 32-year-old Palestinian, Iyad Hallak, who presented cognitive impairment and killed by Israeli police .

The young man, suspected of being armed but who was not, had been chased by police who opened fire on him to shoot him, which aroused great emotion.

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Fatah, the secular party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned “the execution of a young disabled man”. And hundreds of people marched on Saturday night near the police headquarters in Jerusalem and also in Tel Aviv to condemn the death of this Palestinian.

“Police violence kills,” or “Justice for Iyad,” we can read in Hebrew on placards of protesters wearing masks. Police said they are opening an investigation.

Online, Iyad Hallak’s photos circulated over hashtags #PalestinianLivesMatter, (Palestinian lives matter) or #ICantbreath citing the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racist protests that are ongoing in the United States.

With AFP