‘No income, no life’: Jerusalem’s Old City suffers as war rages

JERUSALEM: The as soon as bustling streets of Jerusalem’s Previous Metropolis have fallen eerily quiet, with the continued conflict between Israel and Hamas maintaining away vacationers and their much-needed money.
Within the maze-like warren of procuring streets that surrounds the town’s holy websites, most companies remained shuttered, almost 4 weeks into the conflict.
The few remaining shopkeepers courageous sufficient to open their shops wait day after day for vacationers which have but to return.
“There isn’t a tourism business any extra,” mentioned Marwan Attieh, 48, a third-generation tour information and memento store proprietor.
“We now have households, we now have kids… (There may be) no enterprise, no revenue, no income, no life. How are you going to spend cash, if you do not have cash?”
The walled Previous Metropolis in annexed east Jerusalem is dwelling to a number of the holiest websites for Christians, Jews and Muslims and has drawn pilgrims and travellers for hundreds of years.
But Jerusalem’s profitable tourism sector has all however collapsed since October 7, when Hamas militants from Gaza stormed throughout the border in an assault that killed at the least 1,400 folks, in line with Israeli officers.
Following the onslaught, Israel has struck again onerous on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip with a relentless bombing marketing campaign that has killed greater than 9,000 folks, primarily civilians, in line with the territory’s Hamas-run well being ministry.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place most Christians imagine Jesus was crucified and buried, stood largely empty on Thursday, aside from the occasional priest stirring in its cavernous halls.
“Earlier than, this place was actually alive, full of individuals praying and providing their issues to God and typically very non secular,” mentioned Pietro Mazzocco, a 31-year-old Italian seminary scholar learning in Jerusalem.
“And now it is fully empty, as you’ll be able to see right here. There are not any folks.”
Whereas many flights to Israel have been suspended and tour packages cancelled, just a few vacationers managed to succeed in the largely abandoned Previous Metropolis.
Rachid, a 24-year-old French vacationer, refused to cancel his journey to Israel, saying he needed to see the scenario on the bottom along with his personal eyes.
He arrived earlier this week through the land border from Jordan, following prolonged interrogation periods by Israeli authorities.
“It is a bit bizarre, no one is within the streets,” he informed AFP, including that he had been stopped a number of occasions by Israeli police since arriving.
“Individuals are afraid on either side,” he shrugged. “Individuals are delicate. They do not know who I’m or the place I am from.”
Exterior of the tourism bubble, every day life has additionally taken a success.
Attendances at Friday prayers on the Al-Aqsa Mosque are down, whereas checkpoints and patrols in occupied east Jerusalem have been beefed up.
Many residents of the principally Palestinian-populated Previous Metropolis are afraid to go away their properties, citing harassment and bodily violence by Israeli safety forces.
Within the close by West Financial institution, the variety of deaths of Palestinians has surged amid a flurry of Israeli operations, with greater than 130 killed in clashes with the navy and settlers.
On Wednesday, a normal strike was referred to as in solidarity with the residents of the besieged Gaza Strip, with companies closing throughout the West Financial institution, together with east Jerusalem.
On Thursday, many store house owners declined to talk to AFP out of concern for his or her private safety.
“It is a harmful time. It isn’t protected,” mentioned Emad Sideyyi, a store keeper within the Previous Metropolis.
“The troopers, they kick everyone,” he mentioned. “They do not deal in a great way with folks.”
For many, the conflict can’t finish quickly sufficient.
However with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing {that a} ceasefire with Hamas remained off the desk, despair appeared solely to be deepening.
“We hope to have a peace for everyone,” mentioned Sideyyi. “We do not need to kill one another like animals. We have to reside.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button