Jerusalem | Faithful in the face with a diagonal mask, sanitary tape stuck on the carpet to separate them during the prayer: the esplanade of the Mosques reopened on Sunday after two months of closure because of pandemic, in the aftermath of the death near a Palestinian who is the cause of great excitement.
In the cool night and windy, dozens of muslims gathered in front of one of the wide wooden doors of the cabinet to enter the premises shortly after midnight (GMT), or even before the “adhan”, the call to prayer, followed by hundreds of others for the first prayer.
“God is great, we will protect al-Aqsa by our soul and our blood,” repeated at the entrance to the faithful welcomed by the director of the mosque, Omar Kiswani, who congratulated them for their patience.
Designated under the name of al-Haram al-Sharif –Noble sanctuary” by muslims and Temple Mount by jews, the esplanade of the Mosques, houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque. It is administered by the islamic Waqf of Jerusalem, organization that depends on the Jordan.
The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque have also been opened Sunday after being closed in mid-march by the religious authorities in the framework of sanitary measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus to Jerusalem, a city contested that the eastern part was occupied and annexed by Israel since 1967.
This closure was “unfortunate”, notes Oum Ratib, in the corner of the women of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Prior to the pandemic, “we used to spend most of our time here and leave the children to play here,” she says of the vast esplanade.
Until now, Israel has registered more than 17 000 new infections in a population of approximately nine million people, of which 284 deaths. On the palestinian side, less than 500 cases have been confirmed in the occupied west bank and Gaza, including 3 deaths, for a total population of approximately five million inhabitants.
Over the past ten weeks, the muezzins called the faithful to pray, but for them, and this even during the holy month of ramadan which ended last week.
“there have been no ramadan, or Eid al-Fitr (Al-Aqsa), but today it is the feast, everything is different,” said on-site Ramzi Abisan, a man in his thirties, who came to aurora to attend the first prayer.
“Justice for Iyad”
If the esplanade was re-opened on Sunday, the authorities remained vigilant to try to curb the spread of the virus.
The staff provided as well as masks health to the faithful who did not, others took the temperature of people entering the enclosure. And on the prayer rug, red, strips of white ribbon were glued at intervals to maintain a distance physically during the prayer.
Israeli soldiers, stationed nearby, were also alert Sunday as the re-opening of this holy place of islam comes a day after the death, exactly in the old city of Jerusalem, a Palestinian 32-year-old Iyad Hallak, presenting with cognitive impairment, and killed by the israeli police.
The young man, suspected to be armed, but who in fact was not, had been chased by the police, which opened fire on him, shoot him, which elicited an intense emotion.
The Fatah secular party of palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, denounced “the execution of a young handicapped”. And hundreds of people marched Saturday evening near the general headquarters of the police in Jerusalem and also in Tel Aviv to denounce the death of the Palestinian.
“The police violence that kills,” or even “Justice for Iyad”, could it be read in Hebrew on the signs of protesters who wore masks. The police has said it, conduct an investigation.
Online, the photos of Iyad Hallak circulated above the words-sharps #PalestinianLivesMatter, (The lives of palestinian count) or #ICantbreath-a reference to the movement Black Lives Matter (“the life of The Black account”) and to the manifestations of racism in the United States.
A few hours after the first prayer, about 75 Jews are entered without incident on the esplanade, the first holy place of the judaism under his appellation of the Temple Mount. The jews are allowed to go there during specific hours but not to pray there to avoid stirring up religious tensions.