On the eve of the planned Jerusalem Day flag march on Sunday, a number of minor incidents between Israelis and Palestinians in the capital unfolded on Saturday evening, underlining high tensions ahead of the scheduled event.
Right-wing Israelis have been given the green light to march through the capital’s Old City, taking the traditional route from Safra Square to the Western Wall via the Muslim Quarter.
Palestinians have long viewed the annual march as a provocation.
On Saturday evening, a group of young, national-religious Jews appeared to hold a rehearsal of the march, walking together through the Old City’s Hagai Street in the Muslim Quarter, waving Israeli flags and chanting hymns, as police escorted them.
Marchers on Sunday are set to walk along Jaffa Street to Damascus Gate, where access will be blocked for Palestinians.
They will continue into the Old City, passing through the Muslim Quarter and then finishing at the Western Wall.
קבוצה של יהודים עשתה הקדמה ועברה ברובע המוסלמי, אם תסתכלו היטב, אחד הצעירים יורק על פלסטינית pic.twitter.com/KQ2WkBMFJL
— Yossi Eli יוסי אלי (@Yossi_eli) May 28, 2022
Later Saturday, Channel 12 cited Palestinian reports saying there were clashes and police arrests in the Damascus Gate area, but gave no further details.
קבוצת יהודים הגיעה לשער שכם עם דגלי ישראל, עימותים התפתחו במקום וכמה תושבים ערבים נעצרו. קבוצה נוספת הניפה דגלים בכמה מהכניסות להר הבית והמשטרה חסמה את השערים למקום@SuleimanMas1 pic.twitter.com/bnaJjFOOs2
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 28, 2022
In another incident at Damascus Gate, a young Palestinian woman was detained by police in a clip circulating on social media. She was ordered to enter a holding area overseeing the square and was seen scuffling with a female Israeli police officer, who pushed her back against a wall.
אני לא מבין מה יש לשוטרות נגד נשים במיוחד צעירות, בהרבה מקרים אלימות מוגזמת. זה מאוד בולט בתקופה האחרונה.
היום בבאב אלעאמוד-שער שכם. pic.twitter.com/bRFAGfy4jo
— Deiaa haj yahia-ضياء حاج يحيى (@DeiaaHaj) May 28, 2022
Nearby, Israeli police officers were filmed moving around the grounds of the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
VIDEO: Iron Gate in Jerusalem Old City; Now pic.twitter.com/p7fwH5S8AN
— Local Focus – Security Alerts (@LocalFocus1) May 28, 2022
In another clip circulating on Palestinian social media, Israeli police officers seized a Palestinian youth while pushing back a Palestinian man. It was unclear what preceded the incident.
Palestinian terror groups warned on Saturday of an “explosion” ahead of the controversial Jerusalem Day flag march.
Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s conquest of the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, is celebrated by national-religious Jews, most prominently by youths who march through the capital while dancing with Israeli flags.
Israel has reportedly passed along messages to Hamas via Egypt and Qatar, warning that it will strike Gaza if the enclave-ruling terror group fires rockets at Israel because of the march.
Last year, Israel ended up changing the traditional route of the march at the eleventh hour as tensions were skyrocketing. Israeli police had clashed repeatedly with Palestinians on the flashpoint Temple Mount holy site during the final days of the Ramadan holy month, leaving hundreds injured.
There was also tension surrounding the potential evictions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Organizers then declared the cancellation of the event but hundreds of participants streamed into the Old City.
Shortly thereafter, Hamas launched a barrage of rockets toward Jerusalem in what ended up kicking off an 11-day Gaza-Israel war.