Last year’s flag march, despite a last-minute change to the contentious route to avoid the Muslim Quarter, devolved into escalations leading to the brutal 11-day assault on Gaza in May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza
The Israeli occupation has greenlighted its annual far-right Flag March to pass through Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate and the Old City’s Muslim quarter, enticing condemnation from the Palestinian Authority and activists.
On Tuesday, Israel’s Public Security Minister Mer Bar-Lev, along with Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, reached an agreement with right-wing march organizers to allow the event, according to the Israeli website Haaretz.
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Thursday that The Palestinian foreign ministry in a statement condemned Bar-Lev’s decision to approve the event, calling it “provocative, aggressive, and an integral part of the open occupation war against Jerusalem, its citizens, and its sanctities”
The statement also called on the United States to “stop the policy of double standards and translate its words into actions to protect Jerusalem and its citizens”
The ‘Flag March’ is usually held on Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s capture and subsequent occupation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.
The march typically consists of thousands of young, far-right Israelis, who chant anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab slogans and wave Israeli flags as they pass through the small streets of East Jerusalem’s Old City.
Last year’s parade took place amid heightened tensions in the city and saw Hamas rockets flying towards Jerusalem in response, which Israel took as an excuse to launch a devastating military attack on the Gaza Strip, codenamed Guardian of the Walls.
The May 2021 assault left 256 Palestinians dead (67 of which were children) and thousands injured, as well as damaging over 50,000 homes and destroying key infrastructure.
A conflict monitor warned that further actions from Israel would be required in light of its approval of the march.
“At a time when Palestinians are being killed and injured daily by Israel, harassed and brutalized as they mourn, barred from flying their flag, the government approves an ultra-nationalist incendiary march that will require a further restriction of their movement,” tweeted Mairav Zonszein, a senior analyst at the non-profit International Crisis Group.
At a time when Palestinians are being killed and injured daily by Israel, harassed and brutalised as they mourn, barred from flying their flag, the govt approves an ultra nationalist incendiary march that will require further restriction of their movement. https://t.co/uE8W1CiwJx
— Mairav Zonszein מרב זונשיין (@MairavZ) May 18, 2022
Earlier in April, Israeli police blocked a route towards Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem as hundreds of far-right activists defied police orders and began an unauthorized march toward the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.
The sticky issue with the Flag March is its heavy symbolism for religious Zionism and the right that “denies decision-makers the chance to make considered decisions”, according to a Haaretz editorial piece.
“The discourse surrounding Jerusalem is so sensitive and toxic that anything which limits the actions of Jews or enables a bit more freedom for Palestinians for the sake of maintaining security is immediately interpreted as a surrender, loss of sovereignty, and the approaching end to Zionism,” it said.
The route of last year’s march was changed just before the march began to avoid passing through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter, due to fears of an escalation in the security situation with Hamas.
This occurs on the same time Palestinians are denied any ability to wave their flag where the dream of sovereignty is nowhere in sight. if such an event does take place. this might incite another war like the one that happened around the same time now a year ago.
Khaled Meshaal, head of the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas” abroad, warned on Tuesday of Israeli intentions to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the upcoming Jewish holidays.
Meshaal said, in a televised interview on Al-Aqsa TV (affiliated with Hamas), that “the Zionist agenda (to storm Al-Aqsa) still exists, and I warn our people that the battle is not over yet, and there is an expectation of incursions on their upcoming holidays.”
“The Palestinian people and their resistance will not allow the Judaization of Al-Aqsa, its division and destruction, and will not allow any form of guardianship or religious or political sovereignty of the Zionists over Al-Aqsa,” Meshaal added that
He continued, “Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem are the title and spirit of the conflict, and they are the source of inspiration and motivation throughout Palestinian history.”
Meshaal pointed out that the message of the Palestinian people from the field is that “we adhere to the entire Palestinian homeland, and there are no interim or partial solutions, and we adhere to Palestine from its river to its sea and from its north to its south.”
Meshaal called for the Palestinians’ field unit (in the face of Israel) to be crowned with political unity, and said: “As long as we are united in the field, political unity will remain, and we have to go to political and leadership success.”
He appealed to Palestinian leaders to work to unify the Palestinian political system at home and abroad, especially the PLO.