“Death to the Arabs”: the nationalist march for the flag of Jerusalem held under heightened security
Thousands of right-wing nationalists marched through parts of Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday under heavy police presence, as Israel reportedly warned Hamas, via Egyptian mediators, of a firm and immediate response to any rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Police estimated attendance in Jerusalem at 5,000 participants and some 2,000 officers were deployed throughout the city for the event.
Images posted on social media showed right-wing protesters chanting “Death to the Arabs” as well as “Shuafat is on fire”, referring to the East Jerusalem neighborhood and “Jerusalem is ours”.
While expressing his support for the decision to approve the march, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid denounced the chants of “Death to the Arabs”.
“The fact that there are extremist elements for which the flag of Israel represents hatred and racism is appalling and unforgivable,” Lapid tweeted. “It is incomprehensible that people can hold the Israeli flag in one hand and shout ‘Death to the Arabs’ at the same time. It is neither Judaism nor Israelity, and it is certainly not what our flag symbolizes. These people are a disgrace to the nation of Israel.
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– حسون Nir Hasson חסון (@nirhasson) June 15, 2021
The parade, the first major test of the new government sworn in on Sunday, was rescheduled after the original flag march stopped on Jerusalem Day, May 10, when Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Jerusalem.
As the march began just before 6 p.m., clashes broke out near the Old City between police and Palestinians, 33 of whom were treated by the Palestinian Red Crescent. Six of the injured were hospitalized with wounds caused by rubber or sponge bullets, according to the medical service, which also said another Palestinian was wounded by live ammunition but that police were preventing them from evacuating him. to be cared for.
The video showed Palestinians throwing stones at mounted policemen and one fell from his horse.
Police arrested 17 people on suspicion of disturbing public order, throwing stones and assaulting police officers. Two policemen were injured and taken for medical treatment, police said.
– חדשות (@kann_news) June 15, 2021
The clashes took place as protesters gathered on Hanevi’im Street in Jerusalem, from where they made their way to the Damascus Gate, a flashpoint in the Old City. As part of the route agreed with the police, walkers were not allowed to go through the gate but could go through it, with some participants being allowed to descend to the plaza just outside the gate.
The walkers then entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate and walked towards the Western Wall.
A number of attendees accosted Arab journalists, with one journalist sharing a video showing protesters shouting curses at them and a man spitting at them.
היחידים שהיו בשער שכם בזמן המצעד הם אנחנו העיתונאים
פיזית קיללו מולנו את הנביא מוחמד
עלינו וזרקו דגלים עליי ועל העמיתים שלי pic.twitter.com/rXrMZp4MXK
– Yanal Jbareen | ال ارين | ג׳בארין (@JbareenYanal) June 15, 2021
Some of the protesters chanted Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and posters were seen depicting the new Prime Minister alongside the text “Bennett the Liar”.
The posters apparently referred to Bennett’s breach of his pre-election pledge not to form a government in which he ended the prime minister’s post with Lapid and not to rely on the support of the Islamist Ra’am party.
Several far-right lawmakers opposed to the government took part in the march, including religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich and his faction lawmakers Itamar Ben Gvir and Orit Struck.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party MPs May Golan and Shlomo Karhi also attended, with a video showing the latter dancing with Smotrich outside the Damascus Gate.
הדגלים: הכנסת שלמה ובצלאל סמוטריץ ‘בשער שכם pic.twitter.com/PVX99xvl6K
– amir ettinger – אטינגר (@amirettin) June 15, 2021
Joint List lawmakers gathered outside the Old City to denounce the march, with predominantly Arab political alliance leader Ayman Odeh saying the Israeli capital will one day be the capital of a Palestinian state.
“On these walls, the flag of Palestine will be hoisted and Jerusalem will be the capital of reconquered Palestine,” he told the Kan public broadcaster.
“Our people are going to shame them and withdraw from these places,” he said, referring to the Jewish protesters in the parade.
Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas, whose Islamist party is part of the ruling coalition, earlier called the march an “unbridled provocation” and said it should have been called off.
Meanwhile, Channel 12 News said Israel warned Hamas through Egypt that there would be a firm and immediate response to any rocket fire from Gaza. The network cited a diplomatic source promising that Israel would respond to incendiary balloon attacks, but would choose the timing.
The report says Israel has warned Hamas that any escalation in violence will jeopardize the agreements to allow goods to Gaza and improve conditions there that the Egyptians are trying to negotiate, while noting that he made an effort to ensure that the march did not pass through the Muslim quarter of the old city.
The network also asked the diplomatic source what Bennett would do now as prime minister in light of hawkish comments he has already made.
“On the one hand, there are doubts, we want to show that there really is a new equation here as we promised after Operation Guardian of the Walls,” the source said. “On the other hand, we don’t want to create the link that Hamas wants us to create between Gaza and Jerusalem. There will be an answer and it will come in various forms.
The report came after the Israel Defense Forces deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries outside Jerusalem ahead of the march, according to Palestinian media. The IDF has also deployed Iron Dome batteries elsewhere in the country and sent reinforcements to the West Bank.
Flight trackers showed that air traffic to and from Ben-Gurion Airport was redirected north further from Gaza to avoid any possible rocket fire.
מהכוננות הבטחונית לקראת צעדת הדגלים תנועת המטוסים הנוחתים והממריאים בישראל הוסטה למסלולים צפוניים pic.twitter.com/oYwoSDTi2U
– איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) June 15, 2021
The apparent precautions came as numerous fires broke out in southern Israel near Gaza, with fire departments reporting that at least 20 of them were started by airborne incendiary devices launched from the area. Gaza strip.
An explosive device attached to a balloon exploded above a kibbutz in the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council, surprising children in a playground, according to Hebrew media. The children reportedly ran to an air raid shelter after hearing the explosion and no injuries were reported.
Clashes also broke out between dozens of Palestinian protesters and IDF soldiers on the Gaza border. A Palestinian was reportedly shot in the leg with minor injuries.
The Israeli military has prepared for a resurgence of fighting in Gaza and an upsurge in clashes across the West Bank following threats of Palestinian violence if the march takes place.
Channel 13 News quoted anonymous Palestinian sources as saying that Egypt had asked Hamas not to provoke an escalation, warning that such a measure would “embarrass” Cairo and that the Bennett government – which approved the parade Monday – would react with force.
According to the sources, Hamas replied that “all options are on the table”, but the escalation could be avoided “if the event does not get out of hand”.
The rocket attack on May 10 – Jerusalem Day – in the initial parade, which occurred amid already mounting tensions over planned evictions of homes in East Jerusalem and police actions against Muslim rioters on the Temple Mount, sparked 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, as well as a wave of smaller clashes in the West Bank and mass violence between Arabs and Jews inside from Israel.
Since the fighting ended, Hamas has repeatedly warned that it could reopen hostilities over developments in Jerusalem, and responded with increased belligerence to plans for the march.
The postponed event was originally scheduled for last Thursday, but was postponed until Tuesday when police refused to allow its planned route through the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City and the Muslim Quarter.