Title: COVID-19 and Israel-Hamas War Leave Jerusalem’s Old City Deserted, Businesses Struggle to Survive
In recent months, the typically bustling streets of the Old City of Jerusalem have fallen eerily silent as the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas combined with the COVID-19 pandemic have deterred tourists and visitors. The absence of these visitors has dealt a devastating blow to the local businesses that heavily rely on tourism for their livelihood.
Restaurants, shops, and cafes that once thrived off the bustling activity of tourists have now been left struggling to make ends meet. Among the many struggling entrepreneurs is Mihran Krikorian, owner of the beloved Taboon & Wine restaurant. With the lack of tourists dining in, Krikorian has been forced to reduce the number of tables at his establishment, making it increasingly difficult for him to keep his doors open.
Natalie Bajjali, proprietor of Café Bajjali & Ko, faced even more concerning circumstances. Due to safety concerns amidst the ongoing conflict, Bajjali made the difficult decision to close her restaurant indefinitely. Uncertain about the future prospects, Bajjali remains unsure if her once-bustling establishment will ever reopen.
The devastating impact isn’t limited to just restaurants. Itay Levy, owner of a shop selling exquisite handcrafted harps, has seen a dramatic reduction in business since the war began. With tourists staying away, Levy’s shop now sits empty, displaying the skillfully made harps longing for customers.
Similarly, Ghaleb Abdulfatah Zahdy, the owner of the renowned Hummus Lina, has virtually experienced no business over the past month. Despite these challenging times, Zahdy continues to keep his doors open, primarily to pass the time in an otherwise empty establishment.
The struggling business owners in the historic Old City not only face financial woes but also bear the emotional weight of living through this ongoing conflict. As tourists continue to stay away due to safety concerns, these entrepreneurs are left grappling with the uncertainty of when normalcy will return to the vibrant streets they call home.
The absence of tourists in the Old City has not only affected individuals but has also had a significant impact on Jerusalem’s economy as a whole. The bustling streets, once filled with the melodies of tourists exploring unique shops and tasting culinary delights, have now been reduced to a ghost town. The dwindling revenue and hardships faced by local businesses have resulted in a profound economic downturn for the city. The road to recovery for Jerusalem’s once-thriving economy appears long and uncertain.
As the conflict between Israel and Hamas persists and the fear of COVID-19 looms, the future of these businesses and the Old City of Jerusalem itself hangs in the balance. The hope remains that peace will be restored, allowing the vibrancy and life that once defined this historic city to shine through once again.
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