15 Jun 2021

Israeli nationalists to march in East Jerusalem, Palestinians plan 'Day of Rage'

2:25 pm on 15 June 2021

Far-right Israeli groups will march in and around East Jerusalem's Old City on in a flag-waving procession that risks igniting tensions with Palestinians in the contested city and rekindling violence.

The right-wing flag waving march will take place in the old city, as far as Damascus Gate.

The right-wing flag waving march will take place in the old city, as far as Damascus Gate. Photo: AFP

Assailing tomorrow's march as a "provocation", Palestinian factions have called for a Day of Rage in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Gaza's governing party Hamas has warned of possible renewed hostilities if it goes ahead.

"We warn of the dangerous repercussions that may result from the occupying power's intention to allow extremist Israeli settlers to carry out the Flag March in occupied Jerusalem tomorrow," Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Twitter.

An original march was re-routed to avoid the Old City's Muslim Quarter on 10 May when tensions in Jerusalem led Hamas to fire rockets towards the holy city. That resulted in 11 days of deadly fighting.

The Israeli right accused their government of caving into Hamas by changing its route. They rescheduled the procession after a Gaza truce took hold.

Tuesday's march, due to begin at 6.30pm (local time) poses an immediate challenge for new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who took office on Sunday and brought veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu's record-long rule to an end.

Bennett's internal security minister approved the march on Monday.

A route change or cancellation of the procession could expose Bennett's patchwork coalition to accusations from Netanyahu, now in the opposition, and his right-wing allies of giving Hamas veto power over events in Jerusalem.

"The time has come for Israel to threaten Hamas and not for Hamas to threaten Israel," prominent far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Twitter.

An official route for the march has yet to be announced. Israeli media reported that police will allow participants to congregate outside the Old City's Damascus Gate but will not let them cross through it to the Muslim Quarter, which has an overwhelmingly Palestinian population.

Palestinian protests were planned for 6pm (local time) across the Gaza Strip, and Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction have called on Palestinians to flock to the Old City to counter the march.

The Israeli military has made preparations for a possible escalation in Gaza over the march, Israeli media reported, and the US Embassy in Jerusalem prohibited its employees and their families from entering the Old City.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, to be the capital of a state they seek to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem in a move not supported by the international community after capturing the area in a 1967 war, regards the entire city as its capital.


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