The High Court on Sunday was set to hear a petition calling to prevent an annual right-wing Jerusalem Day parade from marching through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, as police vowed there would be “zero tolerance” for violence.
The left-wing Ir Amim group was seeking to have the court reject the police permits to hold the “flag dance” parade in the area and force a change of route. The event has been marred by racist chants and Jewish-Arab clashes in the past.
This year’s Jerusalem Day also comes just ahead of the month-long Ramadan fast, and hundreds of Muslim worshipers were also slated to be in the area late Sunday afternoon, raising fears of clashes.
A similar petition was dismissed by the High Court in May 2015.
“Jerusalem is celebrating; this march is appropriate,” Mayor Nir Barkat told Army Radio. “On the face of it, I don’t think there will be any problems — this route for the flag parade has been in place for years.”
Hundreds of police officers were deployed throughout the capital ahead of the Jerusalem Day celebrations, which commemorate the capture of the Old City and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War.
Police on Sunday said they would crack down on anyone disturbing the peace.
“The police force will show zero tolerance to any displays of physical or verbal violence, and will use all the tools at its disposal against rioters and those breaking the law, and will see they are [punished] to the full extent of the law,” it said.
In 2014, flag-carrying Israelis were filmed skirmishing with Palestinians at Damascus Gate. On nearby Salah al-Din Street, Palestinians stoned an Egged bus, injuring seven Israelis. The previous year, similar disturbances led to the arrest of 23 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
Thousands of Israelis were at the Western Wall on Sunday morning, according to police.
Thousands of people pray at western wall, part of celebrations taking part in Jerusalem today. Police securing area. pic.twitter.com/J2AwREbrGC
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) June 5, 2016
Streets in downtown Jerusalem were set to be closed to traffic beginning at 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Public transportation was running, but delays were expected throughout the capital.