Sunday, December 20, 2020

Temple Mount now Ground Zero for COVID-19

Photo of Muslims converging on the Old City from Real Jerusalem Streets last Friday

Nadav Shragai writes in Israel Hayom:

With Israel's coronavirus numbers on the rise and the government poised to instate a policy of rigorous restrictions, the worst kept secret in the country is that the Temple Mount as turned into "Corona Mount."

Some 18,000 people crowd into the compound every Friday, many without masks. They infect each other at a dizzying rate. Then they go back to their neighborhoods in east Jerusalem or Arab communities in Israel, where they infect many more. In east Jerusalem, 14% of COVID tests are coming back positive. In Issawiya, it's 17.5%. In Kafr Aqab, 23%, and in the Shuefat refugee camp – 50% Of the 23 neighborhoods in Jerusalem coded red under the Health Ministry's stoplight plan, 12 – which are home to 320,000 people – are Arab.

The high rate of new cases in Jerusalem's Arab sector are not contained there. Arabs comprise 71% of salaried workers in the city's construction center, and 57% of public transportation workers. According to the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, in regular times some 35,000 of them work in Jewish neighborhoods.

The Temple Mount has become a hotbed of COVID infection at a level that is hard to grasp. When we add the crowded housing conditions in Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods, where people continue to gather and law enforcement is virtually nonexistent, we get a chain of infection that kills Jews and Arabs alike.
Two Fridays ago, Israeli police used loudspeakers to tentatively encourage Muslims on the Temple Mount to socially distance and use masks - which resulted in a backlash.

But being frightened of angry Arabs isn't a reason to abdicate responsibility for the welfare of both Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.

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