Jerusalem: Far-right Israeli flag marchers vow to go ahead despite police ban

Jerusalem: Far-right Israeli flag marchers vow to go ahead despite police ban
Far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir said he 'plans to raise the Israeli flag at the Damascus Gate', a major entrance to Jerusalem's Old City, to 'send a message' to Hamas.
3 min read
20 April, 2022
The planned flag march comes amid Israeli attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency/Getty-file photo]

Far-right Israeli activists will go ahead with a provocative flag-waving march through predominantly Palestinian areas of occupied East Jerusalem's Old City later on Wednesday, despite Israeli police prohibiting the proposed rally.

Israeli police will be deployed in large numbers around the historic Old City, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which Israeli security and settlers have repeatedly and violently raided since Friday.

This area of East Jerusalem also contains other Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious sites and has been the scene of previous provocative rallies by Israeli extremists, leading to attacks on Palestinians.

"At this stage, the police are not approving the protest march under the requested layout," the Israeli police said in a statement, without elaborating.

It was not clear if the rally would be banned entirely or just on the proposed route past the Damascus Gate, the entrance to the Old City.

Palestinian groups said on Tuesday evening that they were "raising the state of general alert" and warned against Israeli extremists holding a flag march in Jerusalem.

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Far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir said he would be attending the march, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service reported.

"I cannot remain silent when I see the Israeli government raising the white flag," he explained, according to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

"I plan to raise the Israeli flag at the Damascus Gate to send a message to [Hamas] that they don't own Jerusalem."

Far-right Im Tirtzu group leader Matan Peleg, one of the march's organisers, on Wednesday told Israel's Army Radio the lack of police permission for the march "doesn't mean anything".

Another organiser, Noam Nisan, told Israel's Kan public radio the march would proceed as planned on Wednesday.

"A Jew with a flag in Jerusalem is not a provocation," he said. Palestinian East Jerusalem has been illegally occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Nisan said that the demonstration was a response to buses being stoned earlier this week while driving to the Western Wall, a sacred site for Jews located in Jerusalem's Old City.

A similar situation last May saw Israeli extremists organise a flag march - like this year coinciding with Ramadan - after Israel attacked the Al-Aqsa Mosque and as Palestinians in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood were threatened with expulsion.

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip then fired rockets towards West Jerusalem.

Israel then launched a deadly 11-day bombing campaign against the besieged enclave, killing over 250 Palestinians in Gaza.

On Monday, Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel for the first time in months, and Israel responded with airstrikes.

Israeli forces and right-wing extremists commonly target Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.

Palestinians say this is a move to take over the mosque, which Israeli extremists wish to demolish in order to build a Jewish temple which purportedly stood there in ancient times. 

Agencies contributed to this report.