Old City, Occupied East Jerusalem, Palestine – Celebrating the Israeli capture of Jerusalem in 1967, thousands of Israeli nationalists marched thru Palestinian corridors of the Old City on May 29, periodically chanting “death to Arabs” while taking provocative tours under the guard of police. At least 21 Palestinians were arrested in Jerusalem and a Palestinian counter-march in Ramallah was violently suppressed by Israeli forces.
In a move still unrecognized by the international community, Israel annexed Jerusalem after the 1967 war and has occupied the city since. While Palestinians claim now-occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of their desired state.
The Old City of Jerusalem is the historical walled-in portion of the city. It houses the Temple Mount, where some of the most important sites for the Abrahamic religions are located including the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Western Wall.
Deploying in the morning of May 29, Israeli police officers preempted the settlers’ incursions into Al-Aqsa where provocative tours around Temple Mount were carried out.
Throngs of settlers, including the extremist Itamar Ben Gvir, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque with police guards. After leaving the Mosque’s courtyard, Ben Gvir said that he came to confirm that “we – the State of Israel – are sovereign” in the city of Jerusalem.
Jewish people are allowed to enter the Al-Aqsa courtyard, but they are prohibited from performing prayers there. Yet, the number of those who perform secret prayers is increasing, which angers the Palestinians, who consider these visits “incursions” that seek to “Judaize” the Islamic holy site.
The settlers used the Mughrabi Gate to enter Al-Aqsa where police had closed the prayer hall, surrounded worshippers inside and arrested at least 10 young men. Settlers harassed press and a group performed a Talmudic ritual at Bab al-Hadid (Iron Gate) and attacked a family with pepper spray. Settlers sang and chanted nationalist songs and at times provoked Palestinians and Arabs with racist chants like “death to Arabs.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported settlers attacked an ambulance crew and a woman was injured from an assault in the courtyards. Police climbed up portions of the mosque, walked on the roof and also prevented Al-Aqsa students from reaching their schools.
Prominent activist Muhammad Abu Hummus said that settlers attacked Palestinian shops around the Old City, forcing them to close.
“There were intermittent marches of settlers. At the Al-Buraq Wall (Western Wall) and Bab al-Amud (Damascus Gate) they [settlers] attacked the Palestinians and their shops, forcing shops to close. There were beatings, assaults with sticks, and arrests at Bab al-Amud and there was a girl arrested. In the meantime, the situation is very difficult in Jerusalem with dozens of arrests at Bab al-Amud.”Muhammad Abu Hummus
Hundreds of Palestinian citizens had responded to the calls to gather in Al-Aqsa with many traveling, performing the dawn prayer and stationing in its courtyards and chapels to protect the mosque. Israeli police prevented dozens from entering Al-Aqsa at dawn, forcing a large group of them to perform the dawn prayer outside, at the gates of Al-Asbat, Hatta and Al-Gahanna.
Meanwhile, in the Occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, thousands of Palestinians denounced the Israeli “Flags March” with a march their own.
Many Palestinians taking part in the march expressed the view that the Israeli “Flags March” is a blatant provocation and violation of one of the few places in the Old City still retaining its Arab character after the ongoing occupation of the area.
March participants chanted slogans affirming their adherence to Jerusalem, condemning the Israeli occupation, and demanding legitimate national rights.
Dozens were injured when Israeli forces shot rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas at the march as it reached the northern entrance to the city of Al-Bireh. Al-Bireh is adjacent to Ramallah in the central West Bank and near the Israeli colony Beit El, settled by ultranationalists on Palestinian lands in 1977.
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