Jerusalem Mayor:
'50% of coronavirus patients in the city are from east Jerusalem'

As debate over coronavirus restrictions continues, Jerusalem mayor says mass Muslim gatherings on Temple Mount increasing infection rate.

Hezki Baruch ,

View of Jerusalem
View of Jerusalem
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Israel’s coronavirus czar, Ronni Gamzu, visited Jerusalem city hall on Wednesday, and met with Mayor Moshe Leon to discuss how the capital is coping with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Gamzu hinted at the possibility of additional restrictions for the capital, saying that the level of infection in Jerusalem is so high that most governments in the world would have imposed a total lockdown.

“The population density in some neighborhoods, especially in the haredi and Arab sectors, are challenging, and make it difficult to handle the crisis and ensure that the hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, leading to a high fatality rate.”

“The infection rate is high in the city – any other city in the world with a similar infection rate would have been shut down, and that would have been the only answer in the world, and what you’re doing here is really unprecedented,” Gamzu said, praising the mayor’s handling of the crisis.

Mayor Leon noted that more than half of the cases in the city are from predominantly Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, and suggested that the mass prayer services on the Temple Mount were at least partially to blame.

“There are many reasons for this, including the mass gatherings for prayer on the Temple Mount and weddings in the Arab sector.”

Leon voiced cautious optimism regarding the city’s condition during the coronavirus crisis.

“The situation in the city vis-à-vis the coronavirus is relatively good, if you can say anything is good during the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus has hurt people as well as the city’s economy. But just as we overcame the first wave of the virus, we’ll get through the second wave and well do everything to ensure the pandemic disappears.”