Right-wing members of Knesset Michael Ben Ari and Uri Ariel (National Union) led a small delegation into Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound on Sunday in order to proclaim their connection to Jerusalem’s most holy site on the day the country celebrates the city’s reunification.
Ben-Ari and others prayed at the site, an activity that is prohibited to Jewish visitors to the compound. Three of the activists were detained for questioning, but Ben Ari refused to be taken in, citing his immunity as an MK.
Jerusalem Day marks the reunification of Jerusalem, which took place during the 1967 Six Day War after 19 years of the city being divided between Israel and Jordan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to attend the annual official ceremony at Ammunition Hill, the site of one of the most important, and bloodiest, battles for control of Jerusalem in 1967. Earlier, the weekly cabinet meeting was held at the site.
An annual flag march, mostly attended by religious-Zionist youth from all over Israel, began Sunday afternoon in the city with thousands marching from a park into the Old City. Last year tens of thousands participated, and a similar turnout was expected today, according to Army Radio.
Israel Radio reported that flyers distributed by City Hall instructed merchants in the Arab Quarter of the Old City to refrain from displaying their wares outside their stores during the march, to ease passage for the marchers.
Haaretz reported that the organizers of this year’s march have promised to prevent a repeat of the unpleasant events that marred last year’s march, which resulted in the arrests of 24 people.
After police granted reluctant permission to include Arab neighborhoods in the route, many participants shouted racist slogans, including “death to the Arabs,” while marching through those areas.This year, the organizers have said, they will prevent the chants.
A memorial ceremony for soldiers killed during the Six Day War was scheduled to take place at Mount Herzl cemetery at 2 p.m., attended by President Shimon Peres.
Aaron Kalman contributed to this report.