'The situation isn't nearly as bad as they're making it appear' says Jerusalem Mayor Leon

"We're finally beginning to deal with the real problems in east Jerusalem and the numbers are starting to decline."

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Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon
Arutz Sheva

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon spoke with Anat Davidov of Radio103 FM on Sunday, and discussed the government’s see-sawing regarding imposing a lockdown on the country’s “red zones,” areas of high rates of coronavirus contagion, including many of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods.

Davidov asked Leon if he was concerned at the situation regarding the epidemic in Jerusalem, and Leon replied that he was far less concerned than he has been previously.

“I am far less worried than in the past, because we are finally beginning to deal with the real problems in east Jerusalem,” he explained, adding that the rate of contagion in the city’s Arab neighborhoods has begun to decline in recent days. “And that’s precisely when they decide to go and impose a lockdown there,” he added with irony.

He then commented on what he sees as the government’s distorted presentation of the situation in the haredi community, noting that testing has revealed that around half of all virus cases in the haredi community are among yeshiva students who have been learning in “capsules” for two weeks already, and therefore, “you have to understand something: The moment they’re in capsules for such a long period, they should be taken off the list. They’re not relevant to the overall picture. There’s absolutely no reason to impose a lockdown on a neighborhood where those infected are already in capsules and are already in isolation. I’m looking at the situation from a solely medical perspective,” he stressed. “They are already in quarantine, and there is no way they are going to infect others in the community.

“That’s why the situation is not nearly as bad as they are making it out to be,” he added. “Those students who have just been diagnosed were already in capsules before they contracted the virus. When we evacuated coronavirus carriers to the hotels, they told us, ‘That’s great, but they already infected other people.’ But this isn’t the case here. So why should the whole neighborhood be locked down? What does that achieve?”

The mayor was then asked what he would have done differently in retrospect, and he replied that he would have been far stricter in enforcing the wearing of face masks and the ban on public gatherings. “In east Jerusalem, they’re still holding these mass weddings, but they’re holding them in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. That means that they’re still getting infected and passing on the infection to others.”

He noted that he has had a great deal of difficulty in persuading the government to take action in the Old City in particular. “I asked the authorities to shut the gates, to stop prayers on the Temple Mount, where there are between 15 and 20 thousand people every Friday. They refused to do so, until last week.”

Mayor Leon concluded by reiterating his opposition to locking down the city: “You can’t tell people – who are already doing their utmost to stop the epidemic from spreading – that they’re going to be locked down regardless. You have to deal with the source of the problem.”