Jerusalem Flag March to Be Held Tuesday After Organizers Reach Deal With Police

Marchers will hold an Israeli Flag Dance near the Damascus Gate and pass through parts of the Muslim Quarter on its way to the Western Wall

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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People marching during the last Flag March in Jerusalem, last month.
People marching during the last Flag March in Jerusalem, last month. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The organizers of the Jerusalem Flag March reached an agreement with the Israel Police on Friday to allow for a march to take place on Tuesday.

The march that was planned for last Thursday was canceled after organizers and police failed to agree on a route over police fears that the march would reignite tensions and lead to riots in the city.

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The march planned for Tuesday will proceed down Sultan Suleiman road before arriving at the Damascus Gate, a flashpoint of tensions between Palestinians and police in recent months. An Israeli flag dance will be held at the plaza in front of the Gate. The marchers, however, will not enter the Old City through the Damascus Gate and the gate will be closed off.

From the Damascus Gate, marchers will pass through the Jaffa Gate and head toward the Western Wall through peripheral areas of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Part of the route will be detoured through the Jewish Quarter due to security concerns and to prevent overcrowding.

The organizers of the march said, "We thank the Israel Police, police commissioner, and Jerusalem District from their cooperation and are happy that Israeli flags will be flown with pride in all parts of the Old City."

The organizers added, "We call on all citizens of Israel to join us this Tuesday with Israeli flags, to praise Israeli heroism and dance with joy in Jerusalem."

The change to the parade route comes after Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman refused to allow the march to pass through the Damascus Gate, or the center of the Muslim quarter.

The Flag March in Jerusalem's Old City, in 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Turgeman said that under no circumstances would he approve the route originally requested by the organizers, fearing that the march would incite riots throughout the Old City.

On Wednesday, Israel’s Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, in an unprecedented decision, banned far-right Kahanist Knesset members, Itamar Ben-Gvir and May Golan, from marching at the Damascus Gate with the planned Flag March the following day. 

According to the commissioner, the Knesset members' presence would be liable to incite riots. The commissioner also decided to ban Ben-Gvir from entering the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif as it’s known to Muslims, on Wednesday and Thursday. The restriction is dependent on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approval.

Ben Gvir showed up near Damascus Gate, railing against the police chief's decision to bar him from marching, saying "It is the death knell of democracy. Instead of dealing with rioters, the police is attacking the immunity of Knesset members who are asking to march through our capital of Jerusalem with the Israeli flag, one hundred meters from a light rail station."

“The very fact that an MK in Israel cannot march in the Old City is a surrender to Hamas and terrorism; it is a victory of terrorism. Of course, we will not give up Jerusalem, we will not give up the Old City," Ben-Gvir added.

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered near the Damascus Gate to protest against Ben-Gvir, leading to the arrest of 14 protesters, according to police.

Ben-Gvir said in a statement on Friday that "Commissioner Kobi Shabtai belatedly remembered to approve the Flag March that was supposed to take place this week. It would have made no difference if the march would have been held this week as planned, or next week, except for [Shabtai's] surrender to terrorism and that the public protest won his feeble decision."

Deputy head of Hamas in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, issued a warning to Israel on Thursday night, warning that if "settler extremism" and the Flag March aren't reigned in, the "fragile cease-fire could explode."

Hamas military wing said it's "Closely following the provocative and aggressive actions by the usurpers and their leaders in Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. We warn against harming Al-Aqsa, and salute her free defenders in Jerusalem." 

Last month, Israeli security forces clashed repeatedly with Palestinians near and in the Al-Aqsa mosque, leaving hundreds of Palestinians injured. 

The clashes resulted in Hamas firing rockets at Jerusalem in response to Israeli security forces storming the mosque, which led to the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Security officials say that the situation in the Gaza Strip is still very sensitive, and that Sinwar, is looking for an excuse to escalate tensions with Israel – and may find one in the events in Jerusalem.

According to those officials, Israel is still trying to enforce the new arrangements it made vis-à-vis Hamas after the cease-fire, and make sure the Qatari money to be transferred to the Strip will do so only via the Palestinian Authority.

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