Under heavy police surveillance, more than a thousand Israelis displaying national flags marched on Tuesday at the call of the far right in East Jerusalem, the first test for the new government after threats from the Palestinian movement Hamas that raise fears an escalation.
Read also: Cancellation of a march calling for the far right in Jerusalem
Protesters, including ultra-nationalist and far-right Jewish youth and activists, left an Orthodox neighborhood in West Jerusalem to cross into East Jerusalem and to the square in front of the Damascus Gate, overlooking the neighborhood. Muslim in the Old City where the Esplanade des Mosques is located, according to AFP journalists there. "
The eternal people do not fear a long road
", sang the demonstrators, armed with blue and white flags in this flagship place of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, Palestinian sector of the city occupied by Israel since 1967. Cries of "
Death to the Arabs (Palestinians, editor's note)
”broke through the crowd.
Shortly before this
", the police closed arteries leading to the Old City and blocked the access of Palestinians to the plaza in front of the Damascus Gate, which gave rise to clashes involving around ten. injured among Palestinian demonstrators, according to rescuers. Arab Israeli deputies who came to the scene denounced the Israeli march as a "
The only legitimate flag here in Bab al-Amoud (Damascus Gate) and East Jerusalem is the Palestinian flag. The Israeli flag here is a symbol of the occupation,
”MP Ahmed Tibi said.
Fearing a slippage, the UN envoy for the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, called on "
all parties to avoid provocations which could lead to another round of confrontation
The march commemorates "
" or "
", the anniversary for Israelis of the "
" of the Holy City after its occupation in 1967 according to the Hebrew calendar.
According to international law, Israel illegally occupies East Jerusalem, also annexed.
Read also: Can we get out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
An Israeli and a Palestinian debate
The march was originally scheduled to be held on May 10 following protests against in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, where Palestinian families are threatened with eviction in favor of Jewish settlers, and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police over the Esplanade des Mosques, the third holiest site in Islam. But it had been canceled and Hamas launched rockets that day at Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The gunfire, and the forceful response of the Israeli army, sparked an 11-day war between ruling Hamas in Gaza and Israel.
After the war, and at a time when Egypt and the UN are stepping up negotiations to try to consolidate a fragile ceasefire, the organizers decided last week to put the march back on the calendar and it was announced for Tuesday.
Hamas then threatened Israel with retaliation if the march neared the Muslim Quarter in the Old City.
On Monday, the new Minister of Homeland Security, Omer Bar-Lev, decided to keep the protest going despite calls to cancel it from Israeli Arab MPs and Palestinian leaders.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned of the "
" of the march.
"A right for all"
The right to demonstrate is a right for everyone in a democracy,
" the services of the Israeli minister said in a statement. "
The police are ready and we will do everything in our power to preserve the delicate fabric of coexistence
." Taking office on Monday, the new heterogeneous coalition led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (radical right) and his partner the centrist Yaïr Lapid, ended the 12-year reign of Benjamin Netanyahu. And walking is his first test.
Faced with this march, Palestinian factions including Hamas, called for a "
day of anger
" in the Palestinian territories to "
" Jerusalem. From the Israeli blockaded Palestinian enclave of Gaza, incendiary balloons were launched towards southern Israel, witnesses said. The Israeli fire department reported about 20 fires linked to these projectiles.