Israel deploys Iron Dome ahead of Jerusalem 'flag march'
Israel has deployed Iron Dome missile batteries in order to thwart any potential rocket attack from the Gaza Strip as the new right-wing government approves a provocative far-right "Flag March" expected to take place on Tuesday in Jerusalem, Israeli state broadcaster Kan has reported.
Around 70,000 far-right Israelis are expected to take part in the rally, which will parade through occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem with Israeli flags, and over 5,000 Israeli police deployed to protect them.
The Israeli military had "intensified its deployment of [Iron Dome] batteries in case Hamas launch rockets" without giving further details, according to Kan.
The Iron Dome system was developed to shoot down rockets launched by Palestinian factions from Gaza before they land in Israel.
Israeli private Channel 13 television reported that Defence Minister Benny Gantz had approved a list of targets in Gaza to be attacked if Hamas launched rockets.
Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi also ordered military units to prepare for an escalation as a result of the "Flag March".
Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk warned Israel over the weekend that "it is possible that war will return" if the march goes ahead.
The march will go through East Jerusalem’s Old City, running from the Jaffa Gate to the Damascus Gate and passing through the Muslim Quarter.
Israel’s new government, led by far-right Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, approved it on Monday after it was postponed several times.
Palestinian groups have strongly denounced the march as a triumphalist provocation. Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, where several Muslim and Christian holy sites are located, since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, annexing it shortly afterwards.
Hazem Qasem, a Hamas spokesman, said on Monday evening that Israel's "insistence on its provocative actions in Jerusalem is an insult to the feelings of all the Arab and Muslim peoples and free people around the world".
The Central Committee of the Fatah movement, the dominant Palestinian faction in the West Bank, has called on Palestinians to resist the march, saying in a statement, "Jerusalem is a red line and the will of the Palestinian people is strong and determined to foil the plans of the [Israeli] occupation and its imperialist plans".
Israeli media have reported that Israeli security forces are preparing for counter-demonstrations by Palestinians in East Jerusalem and on the boundary between the city and the occupied West Bank, as well as protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel within Israel’s 1948 boundaries.