Israeli nationalists march through Jerusalem’s Old City

Marchers gathered at the Damascus Gate, flying Israeli ‘flags march’ at the symbolic site

Thousands of flag-waving Israelis on Sunday marched into the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City during a nationalist procession that regularly stokes Palestinian anger, a year after Jerusalem tensions exploded into war.

As Jewish crowds, some chanting “death to Arabs”, marched through the streets for an annual “flag march” marking Israel’s 1967 capture of east Jerusalem, some Palestinians hurled projectiles from the rooftops.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 40 Palestinians were injured across the Old City.

During the march, thousands of Jewish Israelis — overwhelmingly men, and many of them youths — poured through Damascus Gate, the main Old City thoroughfare used by Palestinians and of huge symbolic importance.

Other Jewish nationalists danced in front of Palestinians, one of whom raised his shoe in an Arab insult.

The Red Crescent reported a total of 58 Palestinians wounded, including in Ramallah and the Nablus area.

Earlier, Jewish nationalists chanting pro-Israel slogans, among them a far-right lawmaker, had visited Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound, located on Old City land that Jews revere as the Temple Mount.

Police said that some 2,600 people had ascended to the compound during Sunday’s regular visitation windows — a figure that is higher than normal and includes tourists.

One group sang pro-Israel chants, shouting “Jerusalem belongs to us only”.

The march comes a year after tensions and unrest in Jerusalem led the Islamist armed group Hamas to fire rockets at Israel from the blockaded Gaza Strip, triggering an 11-day war.

The route of the march has never included Al-Aqsa, a site which Jewish groups are permitted to visit but where they are not allowed to pray.

The march is scheduled to culminate at the Western Wall plaza, which lies below Al-Aqsa and is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

Most of the international community does not recognise Israeli control over east Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of a future state. 

Despite the recent violence, tensions have been more muted in the run-up to Sunday’s rally compared to last year.

“The main policy of Hamas today is to encourage people inside Israel (to attack), while they continue to reconstruct the Gaza Strip,” said the former intelligence officer.


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