The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem will be closed for worship during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan for the first time in its history in an effort to stem the spread of coronavirus, the authority responsible for overseeing the city’s Islamic and Christian holy sites said on Thursday, Anadolu reports.
The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (Endowment) Council, a Jordanian-run organization, stressed that the decision was made in accordance with Islamic fatwas and medical recommendations previously announced.
The council announced on March 22 that prayers have been suspended at Al-Aqsa due to coronavirus.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the Temple Mount, claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
To date Palestinian authorities have confirmed at least 81 coronavirus cases in East Jerusalem.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in Israel has reached 12,591 with 140 deaths, the Health Ministry said Thursday.
Globally, more than 2.1 million people have contracted coronavirus, with the death toll exceeding 140,000, according to data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University. More than 532,800 people have recovered.