The appearance of Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, at Damascus Gate in the Old City of Yerushalayim on Thursday touched off Arab protests, leading to the arrest of several protesters, according to media reports.
Police had refused to allow Ben Gvir to conduct a personal flag march on the route where the large annual march had been postponed twice due to security concerns. He wanted to go through the Muslim Quarter to Har Habayis.
Poskim have repeatedly warned that according to halacha the site is forbidden to Jews.
Police used at least five stun grenades to disperse the protesters, who they said were engaging in “nationalistic chants and disturbances to public order.”
“I know the prime minister’s people tried to lead a compromise initiative that I would march here; unfortunately that did not happen,” Ben Gvir said. “Unfortunately, the [police] commissioner rejected this proposal.”
Calling it “the end of democracy,” he raised the question: “if they don’t let you march 100 yards from the Yerushalayim light rail with an Israeli flag – what do we even have left?”
“The very fact that an MK in Israel cannot march in the Old City is a surrender to Hamas and terrorism; it is a victory of terrorism,” he charged. “Of course, we will not give up Yerushalayim, we will not give up the Old City.”
Ben Gvir claimed that barring him from the route violates his freedom of movement as a member of Knesset. However, he did not confront the police on the scene.