Several hundred Israelis marched through the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on Wednesday, as part of a Jerusalem Day flag procession to mark 44 years since the reunification of the capital.
The marchers were accompanied by heavy security forces, in anticipation of possible clashes between the participants and residents or left-wing protesters. The procession went on calmly, however, with no noteworthy confrontations.
The Israel Police said earlier Wednesday that it would step up patrols across Jerusalem to prevent possible clashes when Israelis marched through the largely Palestinian East Jerusalem, to mark the anniversary of Israel's capture of the area in 1967.
About 30,000 Israelis were expected to take part in the march through Sheikh Jarrah, past a contentious Jewish enclave there.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says 3,000 officers, including border police and undercover units, were on patrol across the capital.
Two of the left-wing activists protesting the march were reportedly arrested. Five residents of East Jerusalem were arrested after hurling stone at the march. Near Jerusalem's Damascus Gate, five Jewish men were arrested after uttering nationalistic calls at nearby Israeli Arabs and reportedly attempted to strike them.
In the city's Hanevi'im Street, two marchers were arrested after hurling objects at Israeli Arabs passing nearby. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents. In a seperate incident, One man was arrested after entering a Sheikh Jarrah mosque, waving a flag.
Sheikh Jarrah has been the scene of repeated clashes over the last two years due to Arab residents' opposition to Jews moving there. From there, the parade will proceed to the Old City and the Western Wall. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will never divide the city.
"To my great regret, the religious Zionist community is the only one that celebrates Jerusalem Day in a significant way," said Jerusalem's Deputy Mayor David Hadari, who is helping to organize the parade. "I'd be happy to see the entire Zionist public at these events."
The left-wing Gush Shalom movement, on the other hand, called for the cancellation of Jerusalem Day, saying the holiday commemorates the annexation of Palestinian territory "under the pretext of false unity."
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