The coronavirus pandemic has slammed the brakes on the global economy over the past few weeks, as city centers around the world have emptied out. But it was more than just day-to-day life that ground to a halt. So did international conflicts. As a result of the coronavirus, one of the greatest sources of friction in the Middle East has found itself engulfed in a rare state of tranquility. The entire Temple Mount has been shut down to visitors, worshippers and tourists alike, and now that it is empty, the clashes that constantly plagued the sacred site have all but disappeared.
A worried Israel has been keeping close tabs on events on the Temple Mount ever since the coronavirus broke out across the region. One police source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that serious concerns about mass gatherings at the site were expressed in meetings behind closed doors. He claims that local Muslims ignored Health Ministry directives and hundreds and even thousands gathered to pray in the mosques and outside them. The fear was that this would lead to a coronavirus outbreak in East Jerusalem, which would soon spread to the rest of the city.