The ultra-nationalist Jewish march that was going to cross the Muslim quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem barely managed to concentrate on Thursday evening a hundred people who have not even been able to advance more than 50 meters. Their goal is to claim absolute control of the city by the Jews and, especially, the holy places of the faithful of Allah. A large police deployment that outnumbered them stopped the demonstrators and took away the banners they were carrying with the occasional struggle, but without altercations. Some, like 15-year-old Jako, with their faces covered, made their intentions clear: "A bullet in the head of every terrorist," read their sign. "We have to kill all the Arabs," he said bluntly.
Israel-Gaza war, live
Minutes later, the poster board adorned with a gleaming gold projectile, which other attendees carried with the same slogan, was already in the hands of the agents. The only weapon of protest was to sing and shout before they dissolved an hour later. The attendees mixed historical demands with the current situation of the war that the country is experiencing after the October 7 attack perpetrated by Hamas.
Police accused the protesters of "violating" the march agreement with "racist chants" and then trying to advance without permission, according to a statement.
"We are going to march as we marched 2,000 years ago," said Yehuda Sherez, 63, at the rally, referring to the goal of recovering what Jews consider the Temple Mount, a place they place on the Western Wall and which today supports the esplanade occupied for 15 centuries by the Al Aqsa Mosque. third holiest site for Muslims. "Let them take everything to Mecca. We help them," he said with a big smile between his long gray beard. Sisters Atara and Arial Serwatien, aged 16 and 21, respectively, originally from the United States and draped in Israeli flags, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government of being lukewarm towards Arabs. "They destroyed our temple, now let them decolonize it," they defended, without rejecting the destruction of the mosques and other buildings on the esplanade.
Israeli police intervene to break up the demonstration of Jewish ultras in the Old City of Jerusalem.Jaime Villanueva
The most right-wing government in Israel's 75-year history, in check by the October attack that killed 1,200 people and the war, had in principle authorized the march. The decision was made by an extremist, Itamar Ben Gvir, who holds the National Security portfolio. After the permit, there were calls for the demonstration to be banned, such as the one made by opposition leader Yair Lapid. "It is a blatant attempt by the Kahanists to set fire to new fronts and cause more death and destruction," he said on his profile on the social network X (formerly Twitter). He was referring to the organizers of the demonstration, followers in part of the racist and Jewish extremist Meir Kahane, a rabbi assassinated in 1990 who advocated the expulsion of all Palestinians from their land and of whom Ben Gvir is a disciple. It is an "ultra-nationalist provocation" that should have no place in the current war situation, the Haaretz newspaper agreed in its editorial on Thursday, which openly called on Netanyahu to prevent it.
The aim of the far-right groups, in addition to control of the holy sites, is to put an end to the Wafq, a religious institution in Jerusalem dependent on the Jordanian monarchy and which maintains authority over the esplanade of the mosques, despite the fact that, since 1967, Israel has controlled the entire city. The day chosen for the March of the Maccabees coincides with the beginning of the celebration of the festival of lights or Hanukkah. There are eight nights in which the Maccabean rebellion and the proclamation of the independence of the Jews in the second century BC are remembered.
The permission for the ultra Jews to march contrasts with the restrictions on the Israeli Arab population since the October 7 attack, as demonstrations against the military operation in Gaza are not allowed and hundreds of people have been arrested for expressing solidarity with the dead of the conflict on social media. In addition, the free access of Muslims to the Esplanade of the Mosques is obstructed.
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