Clashes Mar Flag March

By Hamodia Staff

Israeli border police stand guard as young Jewish men holding the Israeli flag march through the Muslim quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City, during Jerusalem Day celebrations. (Olivier FItoussi/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – Hopes for a peaceful ‘flag march’ on Yerushalayim Day through the streets of the Old City of Yerushalayim were dashed on Sunday afternoon, as clashes – so far minor – between Palestinians and Jewish marchers broke out during the processions.

Various items were hurled on both sides, according to media reports. It was not clear who started the brawl, though it was noted that it occurred after more than 2,600 Jewish Israelis were granted entry to Har Habayis, an unprecedented number, media reports said. Poskim have ruled for generations that it is forbidden to ascend Har Habayis.

A bodyguard for Likud MK Miri Regev was hurt after being struck by a rock hurled during one of the clashes. Police said he was lightly injured and taken for medical treatment.

An Israeli marcher was seen using pepper spray against a Palestinian woman; it isn’t clear what precipitated the incident.

Police said that they would act to control the situation, and that three people were detained during clashes at Damascus Gate. Thousands of police were deployed in and around the Old City.

Police intercepted a drone that was flying a Palestinian flag above Damascus Gate.

Video footage showed a small number of young religious-nationalists taking part in the March chanting anti-Arab slogans near Damascus Gate. Altercations are occurring in the Sheikh Jarrah area as well.

A total of 50 suspects have been arrested so far on both sides, and 5 police officers have been lightly injured, requiring medical care. Prime Minister Naftali Bennet expressed a “zero tolerance” policy regarding provocation on the part of extremist groups.

Yerushalayim District Police Commander Doron Turgeman, who was standing nearby, appeared to rebuke the group. The chanters all appeared to be a tiny percentage of the estimated 25,000 participants.

Plainclothes security officers were stationed along the Old City’s alleyways. Many shops and stands were closed and deserted ahead of the march.

“Every year they come here and provoke us. But this year is worse. It feels like a challenge,” said a Palestinian bystander, who declined to be identified, told the Jerusalem Post.

But Israeli marchers said they were the ones under attack.

“They call us a provocation. But if I tell you I’m provoked by you breathing, how is that any different?” said Ori, a Yerushalayim resident in his 20s. Ori said that Palestinians on the route repeatedly provoked, cursed, and attacked the marchers.

Bennett called on those taking part in the Flag March to behave “responsibly and respectfully” as he wished Israelis a happy Yerushalayim Day.

“Raising the Israeli flag in the capital of Israel goes without saying and therefore we were clear about the matter from the start,” he said, referring to the decision not to let threats from terrorist groups in Gaza and pressure from the Biden administration force a rerouting of the march to avoid flashpoints in the Old City.

Later, Bennett said he had told police to  “show zero tolerance for violence or provocations by extremists” at the event, his office said.

Jordan’s foreign ministry denounced Israel for allowing far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir and other Jewish “extremists” to visit the Temple Mount on Sunday before the March.

“The Foreign Ministry spokesperson demanded of Israel that it cease all practices and violations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the ministry said in statement.

The Jordanians also condemn the “provocative, escalatory” Flag March planned for later today, warning it could lead to an eruption of violence.

Plainclothes security officers dotted the Old City’s alleyways. Many shops and stands were closed and deserted ahead of the Flag March.

Police estimated the turnout for the event at over 50,000 participants.

While attention was focused on the Flag March in the Old City on Sunday, there was serious rioting in the capital’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where three Jewish Israelis were injured, Channel 13, reported.

Ynet described the street scene there as resembling a combat zone, as car windows were smashed and rocks were hurled at a police cruiser and toward the Old City’s Dung Gate.

Police said that they were continuing their efforts to restore order through the evening hours.

Also on Sunday evening, two Israeli buses come under attack from stone-throwing Palestinians in the East Yerushalayim neighborhood of Isawiya

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the buses entered the neighborhood by mistake.

B’chasdei shamayim, the buses were carrying no passengers at the time, and neither of the drivers were hurt.

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