Israeli Knesset lawmakers visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, amid tensions ahead of the annual flag parade marking Jerusalem Day, in Jerusalem, May 18, 2023. Photo/REUTERS/Sinan Abu Mayze
JERUSALEM – Ahead of the Jerusalem “flag day” march, tensions have been running high across the Israeli-occupied territories, West Bank and Gaza Strip since Wednesday (17/5/2023).
Marches of the Israeli flag are often accompanied by brutal violence against Palestinian civilians.
Such acts of provocation threaten to undermine a ceasefire agreement between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel, amid fears of violent clashes in Jerusalem.
Thursday afternoon’s march (18/5/2023) is an annual Israeli far-right parade celebrating the 1967 conquest of East Jerusalem and its subsequent occupation, which the Israeli government calls the “reunification” of Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, Israeli police beefed up security in East Jerusalem and the Old City, with military checkpoints set up along major roads and 3,000 personnel deployed to secure the parade route.
Israeli Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu said his government would not change the route of the controversial march and would pass through the Damascus Gate and the Old City.
Israeli sources said seven ministers and members of the Knesset belonging to the ruling coalition would join the march, led by Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir.
“Tomorrow, with God’s help, we will celebrate Jerusalem Day in our eternal capital,” said Ben-Gvir.
He explained, “We have deployed our guards to secure the march, and tomorrow Jerusalem will be blanketed in blue and white.”