Jerusalem Day Expected to Draw Marchers, Protesters

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People wave Israeli flags as they take part in a parade marking Jerusalem Day, in Jerusalem May 28, 2014
People wave Israeli flags as they take part in a parade marking Jerusalem Day, in Jerusalem May 28, 2014Credit: REUTERS

Jerusalem Day, which this year marks the 50th anniversary of the capital’s reunification, will be celebrated Wednesday with official ceremonies and public events throughout the city.

The main event is the Rikudegalim “flag dance” in the afternoon, which attracts mainly young members of the religious Zionist community. Tens of thousands of participants are expected. The parade route goes from the western part of the city to the Western Wall, via the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.

The event has been tense in the past, with marchers chanting anti-Arab slogans. The 2015 and 2016 marches were relatively calm.

Afternoon traffic jams are expected downtown and near the Old City. Hundreds of police and Border Police officers will be on hand to secure the event and to separate the marchers from Palestinians residents.

Left-wing protests of the march are planned. The anti-racism group Tag Meir will hand out flowers to Palestinians at the Damascus Gate. The Free Jerusalem organization is calling on Israelis to patronize Muslim Quarter businesses that will be affected by the march.

The annual memorial at Mount Herzl for the fallen of the Six-Day War will take place in the afternoon. It will be followed by a state ceremony on Ammunition Hill, to be attended by the president and the prime minister.

In addition to concerts and celebratory “happenings,” groups that seek to put a different spin on Jerusalem Day will hold unofficial events. These include a “family walk” at the Train Track Park in south Jerusalem and the construction of a model of the city out of Lego bricks in Davidka Square.

Over the past few weeks, Temple Mount activists have been conducting a campaign to encourage people to ascend the Temple Mount on Wednesday. Rabbis and public figures took part in the campaign.

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