Israel police deploy ahead of Jerusalem hate march by colonialists

AFP , Ahram Online , Wednesday 5 Jun 2024

Israeli police deployed in strength in occupied east Jerusalem Wednesday ahead of an annual march by Israeli colonialists that comes with tensions sky-high nearly eight months into the brutal Israeli war on Gaza.

Israel March
Israeli right-wing activists gather with Israeli national flags outside the Damascus Gate of the old city of Jerusalem. AFP


Hundreds of Israeli colonists continued to gather and deploy in Bab al-Amud (Damascus Gate), one of the most famous gates of the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, in preparation for the provocative "flag march," WAFA news agency reported.

The so-called Jerusalem Day flag march commemorates the Israeli army's occupation in 1967 of the city's eastern sector home to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site.

Thousands of mainly religious extremists walk through predominantly Arab neighbourhoods of the Old City, waving Israeli national flags, dancing and shouting inflammatory or racist slogans.

They are singing the genocidal “revenge” chant: “May their [the Palestinians’] name be erased,” and "death to the Arabs."



"This is my country. I am the owner here. I'm the boss here, there is no Palestine," screamed one marcher.

From early on Wednesday, police set up barriers near Damascus Gate, deploying more than 3,000 officers.

Most shops in the Old City were closed before the march, as streets emptied of Palestinians and filled with young Israelis, some carrying weapons.

"If you wander the streets, you will see how they (nationalist boys marching) work to provoke people, beat and break people", Jalal Saman, a shopkeeper at the Old City told AFP before the march.

"Every year the same problems and events, but year after year they increase. The problems, the hatred has become greater," the grocer said.

Moments later, a large group of boys insulted and threw garbage at Saman.



Others entoned racist slogans such as "We will burn your villages" or "All Arabs can suck it".

Police typically force the closure of Palestinian businesses near the march route and keep Palestinian residents away.

Zaki Abu Muhammad, 52, told AFP: "I am against closing our shops while the procession passes through the Old City, but people are thinking about protecting their children."

"The city is empty," he said.


Day of anger

For the Palestinians, the route through predominantly Arab neighbourhoods is seen as a deliberate provocation. The Palestinians claim the city's eastern sector as the capital of their state, complying to UN resolutions subscribing to the two-state solution.

The Jerusalem governorate said that “the march of flags in the streets of Jerusalem is an assault on the status quo in the occupied city, and a continuation of the Israeli occupation’s measures aimed at Judaizing it,” WAFA reported.

"Israel is exploiting the aggression against Palestinian people in Gaza to advance the Judaization of the Holy City," it added.

A man who gave his name as Ibrahim said: "The shops must not close their doors, and they must not allow the settlers to take over the city. All Arabs must be in Jerusalem today."

Israel's radical far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said Tuesday that he and fellow marchers intended to march to Al-Aqsa mosque compound, where Jews are allowed to visit at certain times but not to pray.

"We will march tomorrow through the Damascus Gate and Jews will go onto the compound," Ben Gvir told army radio.

However, police said they expected the march to end at its normal terminus, the Western Wall, the place where Jews can pray.

Police said they were deploying officers throughout the city to "maintain public order, safety and secure property, as well as direct traffic" during the march.

Hamas resistance movement warned Israel in a statement on Wednesday "against the consequences of continuing these criminal policies against our sanctities, at the heart of which is the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque".

The group urged Palestinians "to make today, Wednesday, a day of anger".

This year's march comes nearly eight months after Israel's war on Gaza began killing at least 36,550 people, mostly women and children.


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