Police on Tuesday rejected a plan by right-wing activists to stage a march outside Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday following recent clashes there between Palestinians and police.
The planned march was announced amid heightened tensions surrounding the Temple Mount as Passover, Ramadan and Easter intersect. It also came on the heels of several deadly terror attacks in Israel and subsequent Israeli counter-terror operations in which numerous Palestinians have been killed during skirmishes in the West Bank.
A police statement said the request to hold the march was submitted Monday “with short notice” and that one of the organizers was summoned for a talk with officers to discuss an alternative date and format. The statement noted organizers announced the march even though it had not been approved.
Police said they discussed alternatives with the organizer and clarified their commitment to upholding “freedom of expression and protest by law, while maintaining the wellbeing and security of the march’s participants and the entire public.”
“Presenting things in a different manner is a distortion and transgression from the truth,” the statement said.
The head of Im Tirtzu, a right-wing group helping organize the march, denounced the police decision.
“All those who wanted to come to the capital [during Passover] suffered a moral blow,” Matan Peleg told Army Radio. “We want to show there’s nothing to fear.”
Nationalists traditionally hold a “flag dance” in parts of the Old City for Jerusalem Day, which marks the reunification of the city after Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites, from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.
The parade last year was rescheduled after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem as the march was held, sparking 11 days of intensive fighting between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
Officials have expressed concerns that a similar eruption of violence could erupt this year due to tensions in Jerusalem and the confluence of major religious holidays.