Police brace for all possibilities at Jerusalem march, don’t see rocket fire as likely

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

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

The Jerusalem Police are in the throes of intensive preparations for securing the Jerusalem Day Flag March this Thursday, including exercises in case of rocket fire from Gaza, although such an attack is not thought to be likely.

More than 2,000 police officers will secure the controversial march, along with more than a thousand other security personnel, the police announce.

The parade organized by right-wing and religious organizations will as usual begin in Jerusalem’s city center, enter the Old City of Jerusalem from the Damascus Gate in the Muslim Quarter, and proceed toward the Jewish Quarter ending up in the Western Wall plaza.

Central streets in the city will be shut down during the parade Thursday afternoon, and public transportation will be redirected to alternative routes.

Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman makes clear that the procession will not visit the Temple Mount and that Israeli flags would not be allowed at the sensitive site.

In response to a question about possible rocket fire on Jerusalem from Gaza during the Jerusalem Day events, Turgeman says the police prepare for every eventuality including rocket fire.

The police later clarified, however, that rocket fire was not considered to be a central threat at present.

Jerusalem Day’s Flag March sparks tensions annually and is usually preceded by calls to change its route. The timing this year is especially delicate in light of the fresh ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group after five days of deadly conflict.

In 2021, the Jerusalem march served as a pretext for the Hamas terror group to launch an 11-day conflict, which included rocket fire on Jerusalem during the march.

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