Clashes Erupt Between Jews, Palestinians at Jerusalem Day March

Tensions high in the capital as Jewish 'flag march' through Muslim Quarter begins; Netanyahu: Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people alone.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Palestinian demonstrators are confronted by Israeli police as Israeli's mark the 'flag march' through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's old city during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015.
Palestinian demonstrators are confronted by Israeli police as Israeli's mark the 'flag march' through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's old city during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015.Credit: AFP
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Clashes erupted on Sunday between Jews and Palestinians at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, as a flag-bearing march began to mark Jerusalem Day.

Dozens of Palestinians threw rocks at policemen, injuring two officers. One of the officers sustained head injuries. Earlier, police stopped a brawl between Jews and Palestinians and arrested one Palestinian.

In the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Sharet, ultra-Orthodox children threw rocks at firemen. In Silwan, firemen were also pelted with rocks, and Border Police arrested a 17-year-old Palestinian. Border Police also arrested a Palestinian man suspected of throwing rocks in Isawiya in north Jerusalem.

A few hundred left-wing activists are protesting the march at Safra Square, near city hall, yelling slogans such as "Jerusalem will not be silent, outlaw racism."

The new Public Security Minister Yariv Levin said in Jerusalem that he was briefed by the precinct commander and that so far he has seen "an orderly and reinforced deployment on all fronts." Levin expressed hope no "unusual incidents" will occur throughout the day.

At the Jerusalem Day ceremony on Ammunition Hill, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Jerusalem has always been the capital "of the Jewish people alone, not of any other people."

The flag march, held by national-religious participants, passed through the Muslim quarter of the Old City after a petition by left-wing groups to change its route was rejected by the High Court of Justice.

The last few days have seen a concerted effort by rabbis, police commanders and organizers of the march to persuade participants to abstain from violence, which characterized such events in previous years. Hundreds of policemen are expected to secure the march, while leftist activists from an organization called “Jerusalem Won’t Tolerate Racism” are planning a demonstration opposing the march of flags.

The police announced that it would show “zero tolerance for any exhibition of verbal or physical violence and would use all methods at its disposal against anyone creating a disturbance or breaking the law.” The march will force merchants in the Muslim quarter to close their shops at noon and most residents will have to remain indoors.Traffic disruptions are expected throughout the city.

During the afternoon, the light rail train will operate only on a partial basis. Due to a state ceremony on Ammunition Hill, all traffic in that area [around Ramat Eshkol-Ma’alot Dafna] will be blocked. Disruptions are also expected in the Nabi Samuel area, due to festivities around the tomb of the Prophet Samuel.

Palestinians and Israelis outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, May 17, 2015. (AFP)

Israeli left-wing activists take part in a protest against what they call the 'march of hate,' referring to the Jerusalem Day 'flag march.' The red sign reads 'Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.' (AFP)

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