Jerusalem: Jerusalem braced for a controversial “flag march” on Sunday as Israelis mobilized to commemorate town’s unification and Palestinian teams threatened retaliation over the annual rally that sparked a conflict final yr.
Hours earlier than the march was to start, tensions had been excessive in Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis, the place an extreme-right Jewish lawmaker and different Jewish nationalists visited the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound chanting pro-Israel slogans. Al-Aqsa is Islam’s third holiest place and likewise Judaism’s holiest web site. Israeli police stated a small group of Palestinians threw giant rocks in the direction of officers from contained in the Al-Aqsa mosque.
There have been no reported accidents. Final yr on what Israelis name “Jerusalem Day,” Hamas Islamists fired rockets on the metropolis, prompting Israeli retaliatory strikes and triggering an 11-day conflict between the Jewish state and armed teams within the Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Israel and dominated by the Hamas motion. Combating value the lives of 260 Palestinians, together with 66 kids, in line with the Hamas-run well being ministry.
Fourteen folks had been killed in Israel, together with two kids, Israeli authorities stated. Hamas warned final week towards marchers passing by the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, saying it could use “all potentialities” to confront them. The trail of the march has by no means included Al-Aqsa, which Jews name the Temple Mount. Jewish teams are, nonetheless, permitted to go to the location supplied they don’t pray there.
One group that arrived early Sunday sang pro-Israel chants as they left the compound together with, “hierushalayim rak shelanou”, or “Jerusalem belongs to us, solely.” Throughout east Jerusalem, many Palestinians raised Palestinians flags on the roofs of their properties, in an obvious act of protest towards Israelis celebrating the seize of town. Palestinians need east Jerusalem because the capital of their very own future state.
A few of the Jewish marchers are anticipated to enter the Outdated Metropolis by way of Damascus Gate, closely utilized by Palestinians, earlier than making their strategy to the Western Wall, a controversial route that sees police drive Palestinians companies to shut. A lot of the outlets within the Outdated Metropolis had already shut forward of the march. Itamar Ben Gvir, the nationalist lawmaker who visited Al Aqsa, advised reporters elsewhere within the Outdated Metropolis that his go to was aimed “to reaffirm that we, the State of Israel, are sovereign (in Jerusalem).”
A lot of the worldwide group doesn’t recognise Israeli management over east Jerusalem. Regardless of waves of clashes in Al-Aqsa and elsewhere over the previous two months, tensions have been extra muted within the run-up to this yr’s rally. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has stated the march would “happen in line with the deliberate route, because it has for many years”. About 3,000 cops had been deployed forward of the procession, as a result of start at 4:00 pm (1300 GMT).
The occasion has been described by main Israeli day by day Yediot Aharonot as a “private take a look at” for Bennett, marking a departure in technique in contrast with that of his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu. Whereas Netanyahu selected a “noisy coverage of capitulation” that ended with Hamas firing rockets at Israel, Bennett was adopting a “calm and calculated coverage”, the day by day stated.
In accordance with safety analyst Shlomo Mofaz, Bennett was betting on the probability that “Hamas doesn’t have any curiosity in one other conflict”. “The primary coverage of Hamas at this time is to encourage folks inside Israel (to assault), whereas they proceed to reconstruct the Gaza Strip,” added the previous intelligence officer. However unrest may very well be fuelled by fallout from the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards colonel Sayyad Khodai in Tehran final week.
In accordance with The New York Instances, Israel has knowledgeable america that it was accountable for gunning him down. Iran backs Hamas, and Mofaz argued that Tehran might “encourage” Palestinian armed factions to launch rockets at Israel.