Workers put up canvases to provide shade for worshippers on Temple Mount, in preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, April 12, 2021
Workers put up canvases to provide shade for worshippers on Temple Mount, in preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, April 12, 2021
Photo: Reuters
Muslim kids play music at Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City during preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan as COVID-19 restrictions ease around Israel, April 10, 2021

Ramadan decorations up in Jerusalem as Palestinians prepare for Muslim holy month

Jerusalem's Old City decked out for Ramadan and shop owners hope for brisk holiday business; Gaza faces surge of COVID infections ahead of Muslim holy month

Reuters |
Published: 04.12.21 , 17:31
Colorful lanterns and ornate Ramadan decorations filled the streets of Jerusalem on Monday as Palestinians prepared for a holy month freer of COVID-19 restrictions than at the height of the pandemic.
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  • Ahead of Ramadan's expected start on Tuesday, the mood in the Old City was far more joyful than last year when prayers were suspended at the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest site.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Muslim kids play music at Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City during preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan as COVID-19 restrictions ease around Israel April 10, 2021
    Muslim kids play music at Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City during preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan as COVID-19 restrictions ease around Israel April 10, 2021
    Muslim kids play music at Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City during preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan as COVID-19 restrictions ease around Israel, April 10, 2021
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Although Jerusalem is still without foreign tourists, far more people were roaming the Old City, where shops reported brisk business.
    "Because of coronavirus, the situation has been bad for the merchants and the people. Now with coronavirus vaccination, the situation got better," said one shopper, Mohammad Abu Sbeih.
    Israel has included Palestinians in East Jerusalem in its swift rollout of vaccines. It annexed the eastern half of the city after capturing it from Jordan along with the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War.
    But it is unclear if Palestinians from the West Bank will be able to come to Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, as in previous years. An Israeli military official said no decision had been made on holiday permits.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Workers put up canvases to provide shade for worshippers on Temple Mount, in preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, April 12, 2021
    Workers put up canvases to provide shade for worshippers on Temple Mount, in preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, April 12, 2021
    Workers put up canvases to provide shade for worshippers on Temple Mount, in preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, April 12, 2021
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The situation may be complicated by the far slower pace of vaccinations carried out by the Palestinian authorities than in Israel, which has faced international calls to ensure that Palestinians are inoculated.
    In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority said it would allow more shops to open at night and for Ramadan night prayers to be held in mosques, except on the busiest day of the week, Friday, when they would take place outside.
    But it imposed a COVID night-time curfew on movements between cities, villages and refugee camps.
    It also banned restaurants from holding iftars — the breaking of the fast at sunset — and stores selling sweet pastries from opening their doors to customers, saying they could only make deliveries.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Palestinians walk as they shop at a market, ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Gaza City April 5, 2021
    Palestinians walk as they shop at a market, ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Gaza City April 5, 2021
    Palestinians walk as they shop at a market, ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Gaza City, April 5, 2021
    (Photo: Reuters)
    In Gaza, shoppers filled markets despite a recent threefold increase in daily infections. That forced the Gaza health authorities to close schools, impose night curfews and ban large gatherings, but fell short of a total lockdown.
    "This year, we brought goods from Egypt and China, and there is a massive turnout by people," said storekeeper Hatem El-Helo as loudspeakers echoed with Egyptian songs celebrating Ramadan. "People want to bring joy into their homes."
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