JERUSALEM, Friday, April 17, 2020 (WAFA) – The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem, Islam‘s third holiest place, will remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan expected to start late next week, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf Council has resolved.
The council said in a statement on Thursday that it had taken a "painful" decision to keep the holy site closed during Ramadan due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. In normal times in Ramadan, hundreds of thousands of Muslims converge to the Al-Aqsa Mosque every year to pray.
The council said however, a handful of Waqf employees and guards will perform the daily prayers at the holy site while taking precautionary health measures to prevent the risk of infection.
Earlier last week, Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Chief Religious Justice of Palestine, decided that mosques in the West Bank will remain closed during Ramadan as part of government‘s measures to contain the spread of the novel virus.
He said the daily Taraweeh prayers of Ramadan will be performed at homes rather than in mosques.
The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of covering coronavirus cases in occupied East Jerusalem, and has confirmed 295 cases of the disease in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip so far.