Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem reopens as restrictions lifted for city’s holy sites
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Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem reopens as restrictions lifted for city’s holy sites

Third holiest site in Islam joins the Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepulcher in resuming prayers

Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims after Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Medina, reopened for prayers on Sunday for the first time since it was closed in mid-March.

Throngs waited outside the holy site’s gates before it opened, with many wearing surgical masks. As they were allowed to enter, the faithful stopped to have their temperature checked.

The mosque was one of Jerusalem’s many holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall, that were restricted to worshippers at the height of Israel’s coronavirus outbreak.

Throughout that period, worshippers continued to pray in the alleyways outside the mosque.

Israel and the Palestinian authority have weathered the coronavirus storm better than some. Israel has recorded fewer than 300 deaths and has managed to mostly keep its daily infection count to the low dozens since the beginning of May.

But it also imposed severe restrictions which have battered its economy and sent its unemployment rate skyrocketing.

Many of those restrictions, including on places of worship, began to be eased earlier this month.

Israel and the PA have been praised for their cooperation in tackling the virus.

Labour and Tory MPs, who joined Britain’s Middle East minister James Cleverly, welcoming a “a pattern of co-operation that should be replicated,” in the future, earlier this month. 

 

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