Tensions spark across Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as thousands participate in Israel’s ‘Jerusalem Day’ to celebrate the nation’s recapturing of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.
Referred to in Hebrew as ‘Yom Yerushalayim,’ the Jewish holiday is celebrated annually on the 28th of the Jewish month of Iyar, which falls on May 18 to May 19 this year.
The customary parade route begins at Jerusalem’s city center and courses through the Damascus Gate, winding its way through the Muslim Quarter in East Jerusalem.
Despite requests filed by groups such as the Returning to the Mount organization and the Beyadenu Movement, the Jerusalem District Police emphasized the march will not include the Temple Mount and the display of Israeli flags within the compound remains prohibited.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated this statement in a Likud faction meeting Monday, affirming that “[the] flag march will take place according to its route and its order and properly.
The Palestinian presidency characterized the march as a “deliberate provocation,” in response as terror group Hamas went as far as to issue direct threats.
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said the march leaves no choice for Hamas to react against Israel’s “attempt to change and enforce a Jewish identity on the city of Jerusalem…which includes Muslim and Christian holy sites.”
Contentions regarding the parade route are not new. Human rights organizations petitioned the Supreme Court not to include the Muslim Quarter in the march.
The Court ultimately ruled the Muslim Quarter will remain a part of the parade’s route, to the dismay and frustration of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem, as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Jerusalem Day celebrations have repeatedly been marked by outbreaks of violence on the Temple Mount and Muslim Quarter over the past few years, including a rocket fire attack on Jerusalem by Hamas and an ensuing 11-14 day conflict in 2021.
In anticipation of a potential rocket fire attack by Hamas this year, Israel has strengthened its short-range Iron Dome Defense System, which has a 96 percent success rate at intercepting rockets from the Gaza Strip.
In an effort to manage heightened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, Jerusalem police has implemented an array of security measures for the upcoming march including the addition of more than 2,000 police officers to be deployed to provide security during the march, supplemented by an additional 1,000 officers assigned to patrol other areas within Jerusalem.
To ensure crowd control and safety, several key roads in the city, including The Keren Hayesod, King George and Bezalel streets will be completely closed off to regular traffic.