Palestinians in Jerusalem brace for far-right Israeli flag march

Palestinians in Jerusalem brace for far-right Israeli flag march
On Thursday, thousands of far-right Israelis are expected to march through parts of occupied East Jerusalem.
3 min read
17 May, 2023
Palestinians held commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the Nakba this week [Getty-file photo]

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. 

To mark "Jerusalem Day" the Israeli foreign ministry hosted a special ceremony honouring Guatemala, Honduras, the United States & Kosovo for moving their embassies to Jerusalem in recent years.

"We hope to see more diplomatic missions move to our capital, next year in Jerusalem!" the Israeli foreign ministry tweeted on Wednesday. 

Palestinians usually protest against the march of the flags and Israeli police measures that restrict them from the city centre and force businesses to shut down. 

On Wednesday, Nabil Abu Rudeine, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, warned Israel about allowing the march to proceed inside the Old City of Jerusalem, adding It would only lead to "tension and explosion". 

Also, on Wednesday, the Palestinian foreign ministry said that the march of flags is evidence to the international community that Jerusalem "is not united and is part of occupied Palestinian land".

Ir Amim, an Israeli left-wing NGO and residents of East Jerusalem filed an urgent petition to the Israeli High Court, calling on the police, the government, and Jerusalem's mayor to not allow any expansion of the Jerusalem Day Flag Parade beyond the authorized route. The petition was submitted after Deputy Mayor, Aryeh King, announced that two additional routes had been added to the march allowing Israelis to pass through the  East Jerusalem neighbourhoods. 

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The petitioners' concern is that security arrangements for the additional routes maybe be provided by forces other than the police or similar to the "National Guard". 

The petitioners also requested that the authorities refrain from blocking off Sultan Suleiman Street - a central commercial street in East Jerusalem which is not along the authorized parade route. 

"This year's attempt to expand the Jerusalem Day Flag Parade routes demonstrates the lack of restraint by those holding a Jewish supremacy ideology. By virtue of their ruling power, these individuals seek to further suppress and trample on the rights of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. In doing so, they hold the city and all of its residents hostage to their racist, violent, and inciting campaign," said Ir Amim's statement. 

Israeli media has reported that national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir and finance minister Bezalel Smotrich are expected to attend tomorrow's controversial rally, potentially further aggravating tensions. 

Likud Knesset members are also expected to participate in the rally. 

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The controversial rally will take place less than a week after a ceasefire took effect between Islamic Jihad and Israel. The Islamic Jihad group is the second largest armed group in Gaza after the ruling Islamist Hamas. 

The latest flare-up caps more than a year of resurgent Israeli-Palestinian violence that has killed more than 140 Palestinians and at least 19 Israelis and foreigners since January in a seemingly never-ending cycle.

Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the 1967 war, as well as East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as their capital. Israeli forces and settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but kept a tight blockade on the enclave home to millions of Palestinians. In addition, statehood talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank, have been frozen since 2014.