Israeli leaders vow 'Flag March' through occupied East Jerusalem will go ahead
Israeli ministers have doubled down on their backing for the 'Flag March' set to run through the heart of Jerusalem on Sunday, after Israeli police confirmed that the controversial nationalist celebration will be allowed to go ahead.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for "business as usual" for the march, according to The Jerusalem Post, despite warnings it could reignite violence in the holy city.
In a public address this week, defence minister Benny Gantz said Israel would "hold whatever kind of march we want to in our capital".
"You will not threaten our sovereignty," he said.
Gantz’s determined rhetoric around the Flag March is a decided shift in tone from last year’s 'Jerusalem Day' celebrations.
In June 2021, the defence minister said that he would demand the right-wing nationalist parade through Jerusalem’s Old City be called off if it “requires extraordinary security measures and endangers public order and diplomatic processes.”
Last year Israeli extremists made their way through the Old City of Jerusalem, chanting ‘death to Arabs’, ‘may your villages burn’, and assaulting Palestinians in a much-delayed event with a lower turnout than expected.
Thousands of Israeli nationalists participate in the controversial annual march, waving Israeli flags, singing nationalist songs, and often chanting anti-Arab slogans as they pass through Palestinian neighbourhoods.
Flag Day is meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of Palestinian East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, which Israel has illegally occupied ever since.
The march is being held by Israeli extremists who claim that Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to them.
After months of increased Israeli violence at Al-Aqsa - the third holiest site in Islam - police are expected to allow far-right extremist politician Itamar Ben Gvir to enter its compound, according to Israeli national newspaper Haaretz.
This year's planned route is from Jaffa Street and will enter the Old City through the Damascus Gate, heavily used by Palestinians, en route to the Western Wall, which adjoins the Al-Aqsa Mosque, by passing through the Muslim Quarter.