Jerusalem updates: Hundreds chant 'death to Arabs' as Israelis march through Old City

Jerusalem updates: Hundreds chant 'death to Arabs' as Israelis march through Old City
Ministers in Israel's far-right government were among those who carried out the intrusion at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday.
9 min read
18 May, 2023

Tens of thousands of Israeli extremists marched through the Palestinian quarter of Jerusalem's Old City today as part of the provocative so-called "flag day" parade, marking Israel's illegal occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 - chanting racist slogans and attacking journalists. 

The parade has become a show of force for Jewish nationalists, and for Palestinians a blatant provocation meant to undermine their ties to the city.

The event is notorious for scenes of Israelis chanting racist slogans such as "Death to Arabs" and harassing Palestinians as they parade through the Old City - and this year was no exception. .

Hundreds of Palestinian stores in the Old City of Jerusalem were forced to shut their doors ahead of march.

Tensions are high all over the occupied West Bank, the blockaded Gaza Strip and in Israel, with the march seen as a threat to the ceasefire reached between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel on Saturday, after at least 33 Palestinians were killed in a four-day Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza.

Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinians raising flags on the Gazan border during protests on Thursday evening, while residents of Silwan defied recent Israeli legislation to raise flags in occupied east Jerusalem. 

This live blog has now ended. Stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest developments from across Palestine.

11:34 PM
The New Arab Staff

Attacks on reporters

Footage continues to surface on social media of Israeli police and nationalist demonstrators attacking and intimidating reporters - both Palestinian and international journalists reporting from Jerusalem. 

7:47 PM
The New Arab Staff

Protests across Jordan

From Jordan's refugee camps to the centre of Amman, Palestinians and Jordanians have been protesting against the flag march taking place in Jerusalem today. 

Demonstrators gathered outside the al-Kalouti mosque in the west of central Amman, chanting slogans and calling on the Jordanian government to expel the current Israeli ambassador to the kingdom. 

7:23 PM
The New Arab Staff

Several injured in Gaza protest

Israeli forces have opened fire on a peaceful Palestinian march at the Gaza border on Thursday evening, 

Forces used tear gas and live rounds against marchers holding the Palestinian flag aloft, coinciding with the flag march in Jerusalem. 

Ambulances have been attending the scene and taking the injured to nearby health facilities. 

5:24 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces arrest ten Palestinians for raising Palestinian flags

Israeli forces have arrested 10 Palestinians and attacked a number of others, including a woman identified as Elham Numan, for raising the Palestinian flag in the Damascus Gate area.

Our reporter in Jerusalem Ibrahim Husseini says Israeli police have blocked Palestinians from having access to most of the city centre.


5:20 PM
The New Arab Staff

Some 10,000 settlers arrive at Damascus Gate

Our correspondent reports that around 10,000 settlers have arrived to the Damascus Gate area in the Palestinian Old City. 

There are also reports that journalists are being assaulted by the parade's participants as they cover the event on the ground. 

Israeli settlers are throwing stones at them, leaving some with minor injuries.

5:02 PM
The New Arab Staff

Journalists injured by 'Flag March' attendees

Several media workers have been injured by attendees at the "Flag March".

One of them suffered an injury to the head, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, saying those hurt were treated at the scene.

The paper also said its journalist Deiaa Haj Yahia was hit in the head by a stone.

5:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ben Gvir arrives

Israel's Itamar Ben Gvir has arrived, The New Arab's correspondent Ibrahim Husseini reports.


4:51 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli minister threatens to assassinate Hamas chief 

Far-right Israeli minister Yisrael Katz took part in the parade wearing a scarf of the Beitar Jerusalem football club - known for its racism among Israeli football teams and supported by the terrorist organisation La Familia.

Katz threatened Palestinian factions in Gaza and their leaders with assassination if they dare to target the march, saying: "(Hamas leader) Yahya Sinwar should also know that if he dares to do so, his fate will be the same as his friends in Islamic Jihad," - referring to the assassinations carried out by Israel during its latest bombardment on Gaza.

Katz took advantage of the speech he delivered in front of the settlers to emphasize that "this government will make judicial amendments and strengthen Jerusalem, the land of Israel and the Israeli people," as he claimed.

4:31 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ben Gvir to arrive shortly: correspondent

Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir is set to arrive shortly, The New Arab's correspondent Ibrahim Husseini hears.

More as it comes.

4:27 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israelis attack journalists at 'Flag March'

Israelis have attacked journalists at the "Flag March", with police not doing much to contain them, The New Arab's correspondent Ibrahim Husseini reports.

The attackers threw stones, water bottles and sticks, Husseini said.

4:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian PM denounces march as 'absurd'

The Palestinian Authority's prime minister has condemned the Israeli flag march as an “absurd and provocative” attempt to impose “false facts” on the ground.

In a statement today, Mohammed Shtayyeh said the flag parade, in which tens of thousands of Israeli settlers march through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, does not give the Israeli occupation any legitimacy through its “absurd policies and repressive practices”.

“It cannot change the features of the Holy City with its Palestinian Jerusalemite residents, its Islamic and Christian sanctities, and its landmarks that reject the occupiers who come to it,” he said.

still frame
Thousands of Israeli extremists marched through the Old City [Ibrahim Hussein / The New Arab]
3:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israel's 'flag day' sees thousands of nationalists march through occupied East Jerusalem, often assaulting and insulting Palestinian residents.

Here's everything you need to know about the provocative parade.

Live Story
3:07 PM
Ibrahim Husseini

Here's a photo from our correspondent Ibrahim Husseini in Jerusalem.

Israelis gathered outside an entrance to Jerusalem's Old City [Ibrahim Husseini/TNA]
2:13 PM
The New Arab Staff

The parade will follow a designated route which it has followed for decades, passing through Damascus Gate - one of the gates of the Old City, through the alleys of the Palestinian town and ending at the Western Wall.

Israeli extremists took part in the march chanting racist slogans, including "death to Arabs", in a bid to provoke Palestinian locals.

1:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces assault Al-Aqsa guard

Israeli forces attacked an Al-Aqsa mosque guards and arrested another, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reports.

Israeli forces arrested Mohammed Taibah after assaulting him while securing the settler's incursions, which took place earlier this morning.

Israeli forces were heavily deployed in the mosque's compound to secure the area for far-right Jewish settlers who are taking part in the so-called "flag march" that began a few hours ago.


12:48 PM
The New Arab Staff

Jordan: Israel has no sovereignty over Jerusalem

Jordan's foreign ministry warned against escalating the security situation in the occupied Jerusalem, ahead of the planned provocative march by Israeli extremists.

The ministry stressed that Israel has no sovereignty over Jerusalem and the holy sites there, and highlighted that East Jerusalem was an occupied Palestinian territory. 

The ministry condemned the storming of the Al-Aqsa mosque's compound by Israeli settlers and some right-wing Israeli ministers and lawmakers under the protection of Israeli forces, adding that these actions were a violation of the legal status of Jerusalem under international law.

12:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinian shop owners in the Old City of Jerusalem forced to close


Shop owners in the Old City of Jerusalem were forced to close their businesses by Israeli forces, under the threat of weapons, on the pretext of securing the site for the "flag march".

Israeli forces intensified their military measures in the occupied city of Jerusalem and its Old City, turning it into a military barracks, Wafa reported.

Israel deployed hundreds of police officers to the occupied city of Jerusalem, set up military checkpoints on major roads, and closed some main thoroughfares.

Shops were forced to close by Israeli forces [Getty]
11:44 AM
The New Arab Staff

Members of Israeli government take part in provocative march

Several members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet are taking part in the march, according to Israeli media and photos circulating on social media platforms.

These include far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Transportation Minister Miri Regev, Negev and Galilee Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf and ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem Minister Meir Porush.


Israeli Minister of Transport Miri Regev holds the Israeli flag in front of Damascus Gate in east Jerusalem [Getty]
11:12 AM
The New Arab Staff

Likud lawmaker criticises storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Israeli lawmaker David Bitan – of the Likud Party – criticised this morning the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by a number of Knesset members from his party.

In comments to Army Radio, he slammed the intrusion as an "inappropriate" step.

"This should not happen. There are those who have become extremists," he said, adding that he will not take part in the so-called "Flag March" for health reasons.

His statement indicated disagreements among the Israeli right-wing and within the Likud party itself.

11:09 AM
The New Arab Staff

More than 800 Israelis storm Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

Hundreds of Israelis have stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

The more than 800 radicals began entering the site on Thursday morning in groups – with members of Israel's Knesset reportedly among them.

The Israelis worshipped at the site in breach of the longstanding status quo arrangement governing Al-Aqsa, according to the Muslim body responsible for administering it.

Balloons in the Israeli flag's colours were released over the mosque, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Muslims at the Al-Qibli prayer hall at the mosque site were forced out by Israeli forces this morning.

Israeli police opened Al-Aqsa's Mughrabi Gate at 7am local time, with hundreds of extremists then storming the compound.

Youths were stopped from entering Al-Aqsa for morning prayers.

The incident comes ahead of the far-right "Flag March" set to take place in Jerusalem this afternoon.

10:14 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli authorities beefs up security in Jerusalem

Israeli forces deploy thousands of police officers in occupied Jerusalem ahead of the so-called "Flag March", which is set to begin later this afternoon.

Israeli forces have declared a state of alert and deployed over 3,200 police officers throughout the city.

Israeli police also removed a number of Palestinian activists from the sites where the march is planned, and summoned some of them for investigation, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed’s correspondent.

10:13 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ben-Gvir orders lowering of Palestinian flag east of Jerusalem

Israel's minister of security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has ordered the deployment of hundreds of Israeli security forces around the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, to allow Jewish settlers to storm the Islamic holy site’s compounds.

According to Israel’s TV7 broadcaster, Ben-Gvir also issued instructions to prohibit raising the Palestinian flag. Israeli forces were seen lowering Palestinian flags in Silwan and throughout Easter Jerusalem.

Itamar Ben-Gvir is Israel's security minister
9:59 AM
The New Arab Staff

Palestinians brace for far-right "flag march"

Occupied East Jerusalem is bracing for the "march of flags", an event in which Israeli demonstrators from the religious far-right march in occupied East Jerusalem with Israeli flags to mark "Jerusalem Day."

The march on Thursday is expected to reach Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem's city centre and proceed through the Old City's Muslim quarter.  

Foul language and racist slogans such as "Death to Arabs" are common during the annual event commemorating Jerusalem's "reunification" after the June War of 1967. 

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