Jerusalem Day March May Start Early to Avoid Clash on Ramadan

The Muslim holy month might start on the day of the event, which could lead to confrontations with extremist marchers.

Last year's Jerusalem Day march, near the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.
Olivier Fitoussi

The organizers of the Jerusalem Day march to be held Sunday in the Old City have agreed to start the event earlier than initially planned to try to avoid a clash with Muslim worshippers who may be heading for prayers on the first night of Ramadan.

The annual march is largely made up of young religious Zionists, who march through the Old City, including the Muslim Quarter, to the Western Wall. In recent years marchers have shouted racist slogans and vandalized Muslim property along the route.

This year, concerns over possible violence are even greater because the first night of Ramadan might fall on the day of the march. Ramadan’s start depends on the sighting of the crescent moon.

The evening Ramadan begins, worshippers will crowd the streets in their thousands at around 7 P.M. as they head for prayers on the Temple Mount, which Muslims know as the Noble Sanctuary.

The head of the Jerusalem district police, Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevi, has said he will not allow the march to go through Damascus Gate into the Muslim Quarter after 6:30 P.M. The organizers initially rejected this condition, but eventually agreed.

“The district commander believes he is responsible for the security of all residents of Jerusalem, and we had to find a balance,” the Jerusalem police said in a statement.

The overall event will begin in downtown Jerusalem at 4 P.M., with the march starting at 5:30 P.M. Girls and boys will march separately.

The boys will go through Damascus Gate and the girls through Jaffa Gate. At 6:30 Damascus Gate will close to marchers, who will be directed to Jaffa Gate.