June 6, 2023

Occupied East Jerusalem – “We want an annual day to remind the Arabs that we management [Old City’s Muslim Quarter] … If we went every other route, they’d assume that they rule this territory.”

The speaker, an unnamed teenager, was one in all hundreds of younger marchers who traveled to East Jerusalem’s occupied Previous Metropolis on Thursday for the far-right’s annual “flag march” together with their yeshiva (Jewish spiritual gymnasium).

An occasion held on “Jerusalem Day” that marked the seize and annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, a transfer thought-about unlawful underneath worldwide regulation, has led to violence in recent times as far-right Israelis yell provocative slogans and insults, in addition to bodily assault Palestinians and even journalists.

Amongst these current, there’s an unmistakable sense of Jewish superiority and the passionate spiritual vocation that lies on the coronary heart of the march.

Earlier than the procession gathered on the Damascus Gate after which swept by the Previous Metropolis, tons of of ultra-nationalists entered the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, whilst ultra-Orthodox Jews dispersed pamphlets explaining that climbing was forbidden underneath Jewish regulation.

Nevertheless, spiritual Zionist Jews, a few of whom put on shirts with inflammatory slogans, don’t adhere to this ban, resulting in tense conditions that always come up in reference to their arrival in Al-Aqsa, the third most vital place in Islam and a Palestinian nationwide image.

Palestinian Muslims seated within the compound’s Qibli Mosque chanted to the far-right Israelis whereas others sat quietly and recited the Quran.

By the point the principle occasion started, round 16:00 (1300 GMT) within the afternoon, many streets within the usually busy Previous Metropolis had been empty, and shopkeepers had been largely heeding the recommendation of the Palestinian Israeli police to shut their companies on day to keep away from any confrontation with the marchers.

And but, regardless of the efforts of roughly 2,500 law enforcement officials to cease any incidents, some scuffles did happen.

One man, an Italian supporter of the Palestinian trigger carrying a keffiyeh scarf, was harassed by Israeli demonstrators, one in all whom threatened to kill him.

The police, nevertheless, had been principally capable of stop extra severe fights, primarily by holding the far-right demonstrators away from everybody else.

A policeman pushes an Israeli as Israelis collect on the Damascus Gate within the Previous Metropolis of Jerusalem, celebrating Jerusalem Day, Jerusalem, Could 18, 2023. [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

jewish energy

The individuals current on the march appeared wanting to flaunt the Israeli authorities’s tolerance and even energetic encouragement of their place, particularly with the presence through the day of Israeli ministers and politicians, together with the far-right Itamar Ben-Gvir, who grew to become the primary minister cupboard ministers ever current on the march. Later, far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich additionally attended the assembly.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to as the march “a lovely day to have a good time our return to our everlasting capital.”

However Eliyahu, a Gush Etzion marcher who got here as a part of a bunch referred to as Jewish Fact, shaped by a bunch that considers itself much more far-right than Ben Gvir, mentioned the minister ought to step down.

“Ben Gvir left the reality,” Eliyahu mentioned. “He ought to depart the federal government.”

For Eliyahu, the occasion was a possibility to overtly show his far-right stance and sing in assist of the deportation of Palestinians from their homeland.

“I really feel pleasure as a result of we’ve occupied most of our nation, [but] I am very unhappy [we cannot go to Al-Aqsa]Eliyahu mentioned, earlier than including that his favourite chant was “Kahane was proper,” a reference to the late ultra-nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who impressed the Jewish militant who killed 29 Palestinians through the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque bloodbath in Hebron, and founding Kah, a celebration that was later declared a “terrorist” group in Israel.

“We have to get the Arabs out,” Eliyahu mentioned. “We should always have razed Gaza to the bottom final week.”

“Kahane was proper” together with “Dying to the Arabs” was a standard chorus for a lot of, however not all, marchers elevating hundreds of Israeli flags and shouting over loudspeakers all day.

An Israeli is pushed away by security personnel as Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir walks past the Damascus Gate into the Old City of Jerusalem, celebrating Jerusalem Day in Jerusalem on May 18, 2023.
An Israeli is pushed away by safety personnel as Israeli Nationwide Safety Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir walks previous the Damascus Gate into the Previous Metropolis of Jerusalem, celebrating Jerusalem Day in Jerusalem, Could 18, 2023. [Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

Palestinians stored away

Throughout the road from the Damascus Gate, the place hundreds of Jewish Israelis sang euphorically, dozens of Palestinian outlets, markets and eating places had been closed to the general public, as had been the Previous Metropolis itself.

One Palestinian Christian store proprietor advised Al Jazeera that the outlets had been closed to keep away from vandalism by the marchers.

Within the run-up to this, there have been fears that they might result in wider violence because the scenario within the occupied West Financial institution and Gaza already escalated after greater than a yr of near-daily Israeli raids that killed tons of of Palestinians. and a four-day battle between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza that left not less than 33 Palestinians and one Israeli useless.

For Palestinians, occasions such because the flag march function a reminder of the continuing occupation and remedy that many now check with as “apartheid”.

“We Palestinians are getting the message that this can be a day they’re celebrating at our expense,” mentioned Fakhri Abu Diab, a group chief in East Jerusalem whose Al-Bustan group has confronted destruction by Israeli authorities.

Earlier Thursday, Abu Diab was detained in Al-Aqsa whereas giving an interview to Israeli media.

He mentioned he was later launched, however not earlier than being advised he was banned from the Previous Metropolis for the remainder of the day.

“They do not need me to talk on this present day of their celebration – even to the Israeli media,” Abu Diab mentioned. “They like us to remain in our properties and never intrude with their celebration of victory over us.”

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