Jerusalem flag march organizers say deal reached with cops on Tuesday’s route

Nationalists to pass through Jaffa Gate instead of Damascus Gate during contentious event, but plan to dance with flags outside flashpoint Old City entrance; no comment from police

Israelis wave national flags during a Jerusalem Day march, in Jerusalem, May 10, 2021. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Israelis wave national flags during a Jerusalem Day march, in Jerusalem, May 10, 2021. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Organizers of the contentious flag march set to take place in Jerusalem next week said Friday that they reached an agreement with the police on the nationalist parade’s route.

The march will begin on Tuesday at HaNevi’im St. and head toward Damascus Gate, where participants will dance with Israeli flags.

The participants won’t enter through that Old City entrance, but instead will head toward the Jaffa Gate, the organizers said in a statement.

Participants will then march from Jaffa Gate toward the Western Wall through the Old City, organizers said.

There was no immediate statement from police confirming the details.

Israelis wave national flags during a Jerusalem Day march, in Jerusalem, May 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The high-level security cabinet announced this week that the flag march would be permitted to take place, if police approve the route.

The march was rescheduled from Thursday, June 10, to Tuesday, June 15, placing it two days after the Knesset is to vote to approve a new government removing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition from power, allaying concerns by some critics of the prime minister that he was hoping to use the march and the violence it could potentially spark as part of a final bid to prevent the formation of the new coalition.

Police had initially refused to authorize the event, which was set to follow a path through the Old City’s Damascus Gate entrance and Muslim Quarter, concerned of the potential for the parade to inflame tensions in the city and spark a fresh wave of unrest there, and potentially in other locations.

The original flag march on May 10 was stopped short by rocket fire from Hamas at Jerusalem, which sparked an 11-day bout of intense fighting.

The Hamas terror group had warned of “consequences” if Tuesday’s march passed through Damascus Gate.

Far-right Religious Zionism party lawmaker MK Itamar Ben Gvir visits the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, June 10, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Clashes broke out on Thursday between East Jerusalem protesters and Israel Police, as far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir marched to the flashpoint Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City. Ben Gvir waved an Israeli flag at the site, in what he said was a personal protest, after police banned him from parading through the Muslim Quarter to reach the Temple Mount.

After Ben Gvir’s visit, and amid the rioting that followed, the Hamas military wing issued a statement saying that it was watching the developments closely.

A joint body representing various terror groups based in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas, said Monday that “if Israel decides to restore the previous situation, we call for burning the ground under the enemy’s feet,” referring to the May 10 parade and subsequent clashes.

Israeli police officers seen during clashes with Palestinian protesters at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 18, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The May 10 march on Jerusalem Day, which came amid heightened tensions over planned evictions of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and a police clampdown of rioting on the Temple Mount, had also been rerouted to avoid the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter, following pressure from the US, which expressed concern that the parade could cause tensions to boil over.

The annual Jerusalem Day event sees thousands of nationalist Jews march through Muslim-majority parts of Jerusalem toward the Western Wall, in a show of sovereignty to mark the Hebrew anniversary of the city’s east side being captured by Israel during the Six Day War of 1967.

The route has long been deemed provocative by Israeli and Palestinian critics since local Arab proprietors are forced to shutter their stores so law enforcement can secure the Palestinian-majority area for the mainly nationalist Jewish revelers.

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