Muslim parishners pray in a parking lot in Jaffa
Muslim worshipers pray in a parking lot in Jaffa
Photo: AFP
Palestinian and Arab Israeli men keep a 2-meter distance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as they pray in a parking lot near the beach in Jaffa

Parking lot prayers: Muslims in Jaffa and Jerusalem improvise for Ramadan

During the holy month, Jaffa's Ottoman-era grand mosques and Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound usually filled with people since the pre-dawn hours; coronavirus epidemic, however, has forced worshipers to think of creative solutions

Reuters |
Published: 04.28.20 , 18:56
Shortly after sunset, Muslims in the ancient port city of Jaffa filed quietly into an empty parking lot for Ramadan prayers, after the coronavirus outbreak forced mosques to close in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter
  • Muslims typically pack into Jaffa's Ottoman-era shrines for evening worship during the month-long fasting holiday before pouring out into the old city and taking walks along the Mediterranean promenade.
    Palestinian and Arab Israeli men keep a 2-meter distance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as they pray in a parking lot near the beach in Jaffa Palestinian and Arab Israeli men keep a 2-meter distance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as they pray in a parking lot near the beach in Jaffa
    Palestinian and Arab Israeli men keep a 2-meter distance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as they pray in a parking lot near the beach in Jaffa
    (Photo: AFP)
    But with mosques off-limits this year due to the pandemic, worshippers are improvising - gathering in large open spaces and praying outside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
    Holding prayer rugs and wearing face masks, dozens of Muslims in Jaffa used parking spaces as social-distancing markers on Sunday night as they congregated for Tarawih prayers, held nightly after the faithful break their fast.
    "We want to feel that it is Ramadan, despite the coronavirus pandemic," said Tarek Ghazi, who heads an Islamic committee in Jaffa that helped organize the parking lot prayers.
    Muslim parishners pray in a parking lot in Jaffa Muslim parishners pray in a parking lot in Jaffa
    Muslim worshipers pray in a parking lot in Jaffa
    (Photo: AFP)
    Committee volunteers donned reflective vests and stood along the lot's perimeter to make sure worshippers kept a safe distance apart, in line with government public health orders.
    An imam recited verses from the Koran through a loudspeaker as worshippers responded "amen."
    The Health Ministry reported Tuesday morning 208 virus-related deaths and 15,589 confirmed infections. Palestinian officials have reported two deaths and 342 cases in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
    In Jerusalem, Muslim faithful have taken to the Old City's back streets to pray as close as they can to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, where a March ban on prayer was extended for the entire month of Ramadan.
    Muslim worshippers pray near the closed gate of the compound housing Al-Aqsa mosque at Jerusalem's Old City Muslim worshippers pray near the closed gate of the compound housing Al-Aqsa mosque at Jerusalem's Old City
    Muslim worshipers pray near the closed gate of the compound housing the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City
    (Photo: Reuters)
    In a normal year, thousands of Palestinians and foreign pilgrims would gather inside and around the compound's holy shrines, built on the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.
    "I am powerless due to this disease," Abu Belal Abu Senanah, an Old City resident, said, as he prayed outside the holy esplanade.
    Jerusalem and other cities across Israel and the Palestinian territories have sites that are sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and all three religions have taken coronavirus precautions.

    Talkbacks for this article 0