Tens of Thousands of Flag-Waving Israelis Take Part in Jerusalem Day March After Clashes at Temple Mount
Some 70,000 Israelis on Sunday marched and danced through Jerusalem’s Old City waving flags, as the capital celebrated Jerusalem Day amid growing tensions in the city between nationalist groups and Palestinians.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed Israel’s security forces to show “zero tolerance for violence or provocations by extremist elements” in Jerusalem.
“The overwhelming majority of participants have come to celebrate but unfortunately there is a minority that has come to set the area ablaze, take advantage of the government’s strong position against Hamas threats and trying to use force in order to ignite a conflict,” Bennett stated. “Therefore, all incidents of violence will be dealt with severely, including prosecution.”
Thousands of Israeli police forces, border guards and volunteers were deployed throughout the capital to maintain order at the events marking Jerusalem Day, including the annual flag parade that proceeded along the regular route, passing through the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter of the city, and ending at the Western Wall.
Israel Police called on all participants to obey authorities, and refrain from any expression of “physical and verbal violence” to allow the event to proceed safely.
Video footage of the celebrations showed some groups marching through the Old City streets chanting “death to Arabs” and “may your villages burn.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned the participation of the far-right Jewish groups Lehava and La Familia, calling them “not worthy of bearing the Israeli flag.”
Later, Israeli police said they confronted Palestinian riots in areas of eastern Jerusalem and the Old City, which saw stone-throwing, assaults on officers and damage to a police car.
During clashes that erupted in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, two suspects were arrested after they attacked border police guards there. More than 50 people were arrested and detained in the course of Sunday’s celebrations, police said.
Ahead of the start of the Jerusalem Day march, a daily record of 2,600 Jews visited the Temple Mount compound.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that on the 55th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, he hoped that “this year we will be privileged to be united among ourselves — because that is the basis for our existence.”
Clashes were reported between Jewish religious nationalists and Palestinians around the Damascus Gate, and between Muslim worshipers and a group of Jewish visitors around the Temple Mount compound.
Earlier on Sunday, video footage shared on social media showed fireworks shot from within the Al-Aqsa Mosque and rioters inside throwing chairs, bottles, and stones at security forces from windows above them.
“Despite the attempt of about thirty Muslim provocateurs to prevent the visits [at the Temple Mount], and the violation of rules by a small group of Jewish provocateurs, the police were able to prevent a continuation of friction and provocations,” said Israel’s Public Security Omer Barlev.