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Nationalist ‘flag march’ will rely on incidental police protection — organizer

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Organizers of a controversial “flag march” through Jerusalem’s Old City say they plan to go ahead despite police rejecting the route and refusing to permit or secure the parade. Nonetheless, organizers are maintaining that their route, through the Old City to the Western Wall plaza, will likely be covered by routine police presence anyway.

“We aren’t going onto the Temple Mount, we’re walking… to the Western Wall, following a route in which the police are supposed to be there to protect us regardless,” says Noam Nisan, one of the organizers of the protest march, which is planned to traverse the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

“We’re going to Damascus Gate and we’ll march with flags in the Muslim Quarter and other areas around the Old City,” Nisan says.

“There’s no legal prohibition against walking here, so [trying to block us] is a political decision,” Nisan adds. “It’s not meant to be provocative.”

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

The hastily organized “flag march” is planned at a time of heightened tensions over the Old City and the Temple Mount, which have both been flashpoints for increased violence at the confluence of Passover, Ramadan, and Easter.

“We saw this week the pictures of rocks thrown at buses on their way to the Western Wall and of Jews attacked in the Old City,” says Nisan, referring to two recent incidents in Jerusalem that circulated in the Israeli press. “We wanted to do it in the place where rocks were thrown on buses.”

Palestinians throw rocks at an Israeli bus outside Jerusalem’s Old City on April 17, 2022. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The march is modeled on an annual event tied to Jerusalem Day, in which Jewish Israelis march through the Old City and its Muslim Quarter, waving Israeli flags and dancing to commemorate Israel’s 1967 capture of East Jerusalem during the Six Day War.

Nisan says that protest organizers suggested an alternative and ultimately rejected route to the police, which would go through the Christian Quarter, today home to Arab residents of both Christian and Muslim faiths.

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