Gantz Demands Change to Jerusalem Flag March Route, Fearing Tensions

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Jerusalem Flag March on Jerusalem Day, in 2019.
Jerusalem Flag March on Jerusalem Day, in 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Saturday that the planned route of the Jerusalem Israeli Flag March, set to take place on Thursday, should be amended to avoid creating additional tensions.

Gantz held a security assessment with the army chief-of-staff, police commissioner, attorney general, chief of the Central District Command, and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, alongside additional security officials.

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Following the meeting, Gantz released a statement saying, "the defense minister agreed that the Flag March must not be held in any capacity that would require special security arrangements, or could disturb the peace or the current policy practices."

The statement added, "the defense minister emphasized to all those involved that it is necessary to adjust the plans and act responsibly, and said that given the series of events that is expected, it is necessary to operate with political, security and civilian sensitivity."

Right-wing organizations are planning to hold an Israeli Flag March on Thursday through Jerusalem's Old City, in a move that is expected to inflame tensions with the Old City's Arab residents. The march, which was scheduled for Jerusalem Day last month, was diverted due to security concerns as clashes between police and Palestinians in the city intensified.

The march is expected to pass through the Damascus Gate – a flashpoint of tensions in the lead-up to the most recent escalation between Israel and Gaza – and pass through the Arab Quarter on the way to the Western Wall, where mass prayers will be held at the march's conclusion.

Hamas called on Palestinian residents of Jerusalem on Saturday to arrive en masse to the Al-Aqsa mosque on Thursday "to protect it from (Israel's) plans." Hamas Leader Yahya Sinwar said, "We've proven to Israel that somebody's protecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi meanwhile called on Public Security Minister Amir Ohana to cancel the Flag March, citing a risk of "Great danger of violence."

In an advertisement for the march, the organizations wrote, "We must unite Jerusalem to establish victory! We're coming back to march through the streets of Jerusalem with our heads held high carrying Israeli flags."

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