Luai al-Zarba, juice bar owner, chats to a Palestinian youth wearing a protective face in Jerusalem's Old City mask amid coronavirus crisis
Juice bar owner chats to a Palestinian youth wearing a protective face in Jerusalem's Old City mask amid coronavirus crisis
Photo: Reuters
Palestinian youth smokes as another uses his mobile phone in an alley at night in Jerusalem's Old City amid coronavirus crisis

Pandemic brings dark times to Jerusalem's Old City

Coronavirus outbreak is keeping visitors away from the Old City with less than a month to go until Christmas, the period when the ancient site is usually filled with tourists 24/7, bringing hardship to locals

Reuters |
Published: 12.01.20 , 19:35
As night grips Jerusalem’s walled Old City, its ancient alleyways become a ghost town of haunting shadows and light.
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  • Mornings used to reveal bright picture-postcard scenes of tourists from around the world stopping to buy souvenirs at the shops as they made their way to biblical sites holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
    Palestinian youth smokes as another uses his mobile phone in an alley at night in Jerusalem's Old City amid coronavirus crisis Palestinian youth smokes as another uses his mobile phone in an alley at night in Jerusalem's Old City amid coronavirus crisis
    Palestinian youth smokes as another uses his mobile phone in an alley at night in Jerusalem's Old City amid coronavirus crisis
    (Photo: Reuters)
    But a modern-day plague, the coronavirus pandemic, is now keeping the visitors away from the Old City and bringing hardship and heartbreak to residents.
    “In previous years, the city used to be filled with tourists during Christmas time. But now, at around 5pm, it becomes empty,” said Hisham Qweder, 40, a computer technician.
    Luai al-Zarba, juice bar owner, chats to a Palestinian youth wearing a protective face in Jerusalem's Old City mask amid coronavirus crisis Luai al-Zarba, juice bar owner, chats to a Palestinian youth wearing a protective face in Jerusalem's Old City mask amid coronavirus crisis
    Juice bar owner chats to a Palestinian youth wearing a protective face in Jerusalem's Old City mask amid coronavirus crisis
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The light from a juice bar, still open at night, is a beacon to customers along a virtually deserted pathway.
    Before the pandemic struck, overseas tourism had been booming in Jerusalem, whose Old City was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.
    Man plays the accordion at night in Jerusalem's Old City amid coronavirus crisisMan plays the accordion at night in Jerusalem's Old City amid coronavirus crisis
    Man plays the accordion at night in Jerusalem's Old City amid coronavirus crisis
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Khaled Salfiti, a 70-year-old souvenir shop owner, recalls how the Old City used to be “vibrant and alive” before a series of coronavirus lockdowns.
    “Corona paralyzed everything,” he lamented.
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