Flag March: Over 100 injured in Jerusalem in clashes between Israelis and Palestinians
About 70,000 people took part in the Flag March. Police arrested 21 people. Bennett pledged “zero tolerance” against violence. Netanyahu slams the government for weakness. Hamas threatens harsh responses “at the right time”. Many fear an escalation of violence, like the one that led to last year’s brief war in Gaza.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – More than a hundred Palestinians were injured during yesterday’s clashes in Jerusalem during “Flag March”, a rally by Jewish extremist groups and settlers at a time of persistent high tensions.
Palestinians reacted to the march (and the parade on Temple Mount) by organising counter-protests – with slogans against the occupation and the desecration of al-Aqsa mosque – in various parts of the West Bank, which were immediately met with force by Israeli security.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Ramallah, Israeli soldiers attacked two different protests, injuring scores of people.
The SAFA news agency reported that protesters gathered near the Beit El Jewish settlement, built on land that belongs to the Palestinian town of Al-Bireh, blocking entrances with bricks and burning tires.
Israeli military responded with force, as it did in the village of Nabi Saleh, west of Ramallah, where hundreds of demonstrators had gathered.
According to some sources, the police also fired rubber bullets into the crowd, injuring at least eight people who are now in hospital in stable conditions.
As in the past, Israel’s ultra-right is behind the Flag March to celebrate the 1967 reunification of the holy city under Israeli rule with tens of thousands of people taking part. For Palestinians, the event marks the occupation of their part of the city.
The participants walked from the Damascus Gate to the Wailing Wall, proudly waving Israeli flags, chanting, and shouting slogans, including nationalist and racist slurs like “death to the Arabs" and “Shireen (Abu-Akleh) is dead”, a reference to the Palestinian Christian journalist killed on 11 May.
According to police sources, at least 70,000 people took part in the march; some 3,000 police agents were deployed. Twenty-one people were arrested during the clashes.
On the eve of the demonstration, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced “zero tolerance" vis-à-vis violence or provocation of any kind by either side.
Most march participants, he stressed, want to "celebrate" but “unfortunately there is a minority that has come to set the area ablaze”.
Palestinian Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh rejected Bennett’s when he said that “Jerusalem is a unified city."
For Palestinians, "East Jerusalem and all its holy sites will remain the eternal capital of the state of Palestine,” Rudeineh said.
In his view, “Security and stability would never be achieved in the region as long as Israel continues its war on the Palestinian people and their land” and “act as a state above the law”.
Jordan also criticised Israel for yesterday’s violence on Temple Mount, calling for upholding the status quo.
Given the situation, the climate of tension is expected to increase, already high due to a wave of attacks in Israel and the violent repression by Israeli security forces, as well as the death of the Palestinian Christian journalist.
Israel’s current government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is weak having lost its majority in the Knesset. The opposition led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is constantly on the attack, working behind the scene to get back into power.
Such a situation is certainly not going to help calm the spirits and guarantee security and justice to the parties. Clashes in the morning on al-Haram al-Sharif between police and Palestinian protesters will certainly not improve things.
Palestinians are particularly angry at a visit to the al-Aqsa mosque compound by Jewish settlers and nationalists, led by far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir. They view such actions as provocative and Hamas has already said it will respond “at the right time”.
For many analysts, what happens on Temple Mount is far more serious than the Flag March, especially since it sparked last year's bloody 11-day war in Gaza that claimed hundreds of lives.