People’s joy at reopened mosques in Gaza ‘a blessing’ – imam

Worshippers perform the Dhuhr (noon) prayers in Al-Abbas mosque in Gaza City on June 3, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 June 2020

People’s joy at reopened mosques in Gaza ‘a blessing’ – imam

  • Muslim religious authorities in the territory have allowed Friday prayers in mosques, after a two-month closure

GAZA: Mosques reopened for daily prayers and children returned to nursery schools on Wednesday in an easing of coronavirus restrictions in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas -run enclave, whose borders are tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt, has recorded 61 confirmed infection cases, all in quarantine facilities, and one death during the health crisis. Two million Palestinians live in Gaza.
In the past week, Muslim religious authorities in the territory have allowed Friday prayers in mosques, after a two-month closure.
They will now be open to worshippers every day. Abdel-Hadi Al-Agha, director of the Hamas-led Waqf and Religious Affairs ministry, said he instructed mosque leaders to keep sermons and prayers brief as a health precaution.
Ahmed Al-Safadi, a Gaza City imam, said dozens of people attended dawn prayers at his mosque.
“People’s pleasure at returning to God’s house is a great blessing,” he said.
Precautionary measures were in place, he added, with worshippers having to wear face masks, bring their own prayer mats and maintain social distancing.
Gaza authorities also ordered the reopening of pre-schools, for children between the ages of two and five.
“A big percentage of families are employees and since they have resumed their jobs in offices, they have brought their children back to our nursery school,” said Hind Assousi, principal of the Beautiful Smile kindergarten in Gaza City.
The education system in Gaza and the West Bank was shut down in March to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The school year for elementary and secondary school in Gaza and the West Bank has officially ended, with the exception of final exams that began on Saturday for high school students.


At least 14 civilians killed by booby traps in Egypt’s Sinai

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At least 14 civilians killed by booby traps in Egypt’s Sinai

  • Daesh militants in July attacked several villages in the town of Bir Al-Abd, forcing people to flee their homes
  • The militants had laid booby traps in several houses that killed at least 14 people after they returned to their homes

EL-ARISH: More than a dozen civilians, including women and children, were killed in Egypt’s restive northern Sinai Peninsula over the past two weeks from explosive devices laid down in their homes by militants, security and medical officials said Sunday.
Daesh militants in July attacked several villages in the town of Bir Al-Abd, forcing people to flee their homes. The military then secured the villages in August and allowed residents to return to their homes a few weeks later, the officials said.
The militants, however, had laid booby traps in several houses that killed at least 14 people, including six from the same family late on Saturday, officials said. The causalities included women and children.
At least ten others have been wounded since Oct. 12 and were taken to the town’s hospital for treatment, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Bir Al-Abd was the site of a horrific extremist attack on a mosque in 2017 that killed over 300 worshippers, some of them fathers praying with their young sons. The tribes of North Sinai have been heavily targeted by militants who view their veneration of Muslim saints and shrines as heretical, forcing a mass exodus of residents from the impoverished area that has long been underdeveloped by the government.
Violence and instability there intensified after the military overthrew the country’s president in 2013 amid nationwide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood group’s divisive rule. Extremist militants have since carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and minority Christians.
The conflict has largely taken place out of public view, with journalists and outside observers barred from the area. The conflict has so far not expanded into the southern end of the peninsula where popular Red Sea tourist resorts are located.
In February 2018, the military launched a massive operation in Sinai that also encompassed parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya. Since then, the pace of Daesh attacks in Sinai’s north has diminished.