Lockdown During Eid al-Fitr Overwhelms West Bank Citizens
Bethlehem is struggling to get back to life just in time for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, nearly three months after it became the first town in the West Bank to go under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Although the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, remains shut, shops are displaying new clothes and sweets to lure customers after 75 days of closure.
The city livened up after the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday eased curbs in several cities, including Bethlehem, in preparation for Eid El-Fitr.
Shops, businesses, and banks were allowed to reopen briefly in cities not heavily affected by the infection.
To try to limit mass gatherings normally seen during holidays, the PA said that during the three days of the festival a blanket lockdown would be re-imposed on the West Bank.
The announcement disappointed many residents who had only just stared to enjoy the first taste of freedom.
Closures will prevent people from celebrating in the usual ways, by holding family feasts, wearing new clothes, and visiting parks.
“People want to celebrate despite coronavirus, despite the existing situation, and despite the suffering,” Bethlehem resident Khaled Abdel-Moati told Reuters.
“I believe this situation is very dangerous.”
In Gaza, where there have been no confirmed coronavirus cases outside quarantine centers, Hamas officials said a full lockdown was not yet required.