Hundreds of Palestinians riot on Gaza border amid controversial Jerusalem Flag March

IDF says dozens of suspects hurl explosives at security barrier during violent protests; no soldiers hurt

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Palestinian flags are fixed to Israel's security barrier during a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on May 18, 2023 in response to an annual Israeli flag march marking Jerusalem Day (Mohammed ABED / AFP)
Palestinian flags are fixed to Israel's security barrier during a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on May 18, 2023 in response to an annual Israeli flag march marking Jerusalem Day (Mohammed ABED / AFP)

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protested along the border with Israel on Thursday afternoon, as tensions were high amid the controversial Jerusalem Day Flag March.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces told The Times of Israel that dozens of Palestinians approached the security barrier — built entirely within Israeli territory — and hurled explosive devices. Many others protested some distance away from the fence.

No soldiers were hurt during the violent protests.

IDF troops responded with riot dispersal means and in some cases live fire, the spokesperson said.

Footage from the Palestinian side of the border barrier showed a military drone dropping tear gas grenades on the crowd.

Palestinian media said several people were treated by medics, without elaborating on their conditions or cause of injury.

The Palestinian protest on the Gaza border was held in response to the annual nationalist Flag March in the capital on Jerusalem Day, marking Israel’s capture of the city during the 1967 Six Day War.

The controversial parade on Thursday again featured racist chants and scuffles with Palestinian residents as the largely teenage, religious nationalist participants made their way through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

But despite several dozen instances of violence and harassment by Jewish participants, and pre-march threats by Gaza terror groups, the rally managed to conclude without a major incident.

Young Jewish men hold Israeli flags as they dance at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, during Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 18, 2023. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

Two years ago, the Gaza-ruling Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem to coincide with the march, leading to an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza.

Security officials had believed the chances for rocket fire from Gaza during the march were slim. But some feared a repeat of 2021.

Thursday’s protests on the Gaza border came less than a week after Israel and the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad finalized a ceasefire agreement following five days of deadly conflict.

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