The Israel Police decision to cancel the Flag March in Yerushalayim’s Old City sparked angry reactions from right-wing leaders on Monday.
The event, which was postponed on May 10 when a volley of rockets from Gaza terrorists were fired at the Yerushalayim area, was rescheduled for Thursday. But Defense Minister Benny Ganz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashekenazi urged that it be called off, lest the patriotic display provoke renewed violence by the Palestinians.
After meeting with the event organizers on Monday morning, police officials said they would consider granting the parade permit if an alternate route were submitted. It was not clear whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had been involved in the decision-making, after police said on Sunday that the final disposition would be his to make.
Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionism party, exhorted the prime minister “not to give in to Hamas threats” of further attacks if the march proceeds.
“While we are arguing over what kind of government to have, Yahya Sinwar is running things here,” Smotrich tweeted, referring to the head of Hamas in Gaza.
Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman said: “We understand that from now on if you want to organize an event with Israeli flags in the Old City of Jerusalem, you don’t have to coordinate with the Israeli police but with Gaza and Washington, which are becoming the addresses for Israeli citizens who want the right to celebrate in the streets of our capital.”
“The decision to cancel Thursday’s event is a surrender to Arab threats and violence, instead of confronting it head on. This is even more serious when we are talking about our capital city, Jerusalem,” Ne’eman concluded in a statement.
Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir trumpeted defiance of the authorities, saying that he intended to march along the planned route, accusing police of “capitulating to terrorism.”
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana told Army Radio that the police decision was not final.
“We do not usually interfere in these types of decisions made by the police, but because of the national and political importance of the incident, we want to make the decision ourselves – and it will happen in the next day,” said Ohana.
His comment added to the controversy, as Labor MK Gilad Kariv tweeted that it was “another chapter in the outgoing government’s attempt to leave a scorched earth behind.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly has scheduled a meeting in his office to discuss the flag march on Monday evening.
Updated Monday, June 7, 2021 at 1:12 pm .