Of course, Jerusalem and its centuries-old history have seen others. But the outbreak of coronavirus remains for a long time engraved in the memory of its inhabitants and of the believers. At least those, Palestinian, Israeli or foreign inhabitants of the city three times holy, is permitted to pass the heavy gates of the old city. Because since the virus hits the planet, the jewish State was barricaded, closing its borders and its airport to keep the epidemic under control. Exceptional Situation, therefore, the consequences unseen to the three holy places within the walls.
Cancellation of the pilgrimages : “It is to be expected, as christians are leaving the holy Land “
The esplanade of the mosques first. Ever since the reign of the crusaders, the courtyard, the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock had been denied access. 2020 was, therefore, almost for the first time, the Waqf, the muslim authority of jordan, in charge of the management of the sites since Saladin having ordered a full closure last march. Without any possible derogation. Ramadan including.
“I went to pray at the small mosque of my neighbourhood, listening to the muezzin on YouTube “, tells the story of Fathi Jabari, who lives in the suburbs of Jerusalem. For thirty years he has a shop in the old city, her not-of-door is merely moved to the Via Dolorosa in one of the arteries that goes from the Damascus gate to the depths of the old city. Its new gift shop, pottery in Hebron and kefieh colorful, facing the souks des cotonniers, one of the inputs of the esplanade. ” When I’m working, I’m going to pray every day. Spend time in Al-Aqsa, it is vital for me ! Moreover, in normal times, for the month of Ramadan, I took the habit of renting an apartment in the old town. “
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Also, when the esplanade has re-opened its doors on the last Sunday of may, he admits coyly “crying with emotion “. Since, the instructions related to the Covid-19 continue to apply : wearing a mask recommended for, and observance of safety distances. “Prior to reopening, we have sterilized the gardens and the mosques “explains his side Omar Kaswani, the director of Al-Aqsa mosque.
Avoid crowding too important
A few minutes from the store of Fathi Jabari, the Wailing wall has, himself, never been quite deserted, and the restrictions imposed to the faithful, the prohibition of kissing the stones of the wall, in particular, linear measures imposed on the population by the israeli ministry of health. Today, large tarps white subdivide the space to avoid crowding too much. It is scorching hot, but wearing a mask is also imposed, which does not seem to disturb John, London-based immigrant in Israel for the past six years : “I am not the most practising, but I am happy to be able to continue to come here regularly in spite of the virus. “
In the christian quarter, the streets are empty, and souvenir stores and icons of any kind do not have all reopened. The lack of pilgrims is made here especially to feel. On the parvis of the Holy Sepulchre, Olga, israeli Russian-speaking christian, like many immigrants from the former soviet Union, walking a not in a hurry, a handful of candles to hand. ” It was a moment that I was not coming. Finally, it is nice to gather at the church, with so little of the world. “
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“You can no longer see the Holy Sepulchre closed doors “
Inside, 50 people maximum are allowed to enter, greeted at the entrance by a bottle of hydroalcoholic gel. ” My uncle, 82-year-old was denied entry twice in a row “, ensures Hani Boullata, a palestinian orthodox christian. If the containment has not been easy, especially during the Easter celebrations that it has followed through Skype, it ensures that you have the opportunity to “considering his way of living and its relation to the other “.
Father Ibrahim Shomali, chancellor of the latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, has lived through the period “a certain return to the domestic church” with ” serenity “. But, he continues, “we have also seen how people have need of the eucharist. “ Him who hopes ” never to see the Holy Sepulchre closed doors “ has only one fear : ” the closure of sacred places has been decided by the civil authorities, we are afraid of a growing influence of their own on the spiritual. “ Anyway, the vespers have taken over on June 10.
The Covid-19 in Israel and in the palestinian Territories
In Israel, more than 18 000 people have been sick of the coronavirus, the vast majority of which is now cured ; 299 deaths have been reported.
In the palestinian Territories, five deaths and 661 cases of Covid-19 have so far been recorded, 180 of which are in East Jerusalem, 70 in the Gaza strip and 411 in the west bank.
2 months : this is the period, from 25 march to 27 may, during which the church of the Holy Sepulchre has been completely closed to the public in order to avoid any spread of the coronavirus.
70 days : for the first time since the days of the crusaders, the esplanade of the mosques were closed during the whole month of Ramadan. Its doors have re-opened after the Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of fasting.
At the Wailing wallthe authorities preferred to regulate drastically the comings and goings rather than completely close the places.