Marking Gaza War Anniversary, Hamas Leader Warns Israel Against Jerusalem March

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh calls on Palestinians to be 'on high alert', adding that the Palestinian people are now united across boundaries in their resistance against Israel

A flag march passing through Jerusalem in April.
A flag march passing through Jerusalem in April.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh warned Israel on Sunday against carrying out a planned right-wing march in Jerusalem next week.

In a speech marking the anniversary of last May's Gaza war, Haniyeh noted that the clashes in mixed Jewish-Arab cities – which coincided with the war – are a turning point in the Palestinian struggle against Israel.

The struggle, Haniyeh also said, "united the Palestinian people, diminishing the boundaries between those in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israeli society as well." The Hamas leader also called on Palestinians to be "on high alert" and referenced the spate of terror attacks in Israel over the past month.

The bureau of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah also issued a warning against proceeding with the flag march. He also lashed out against a decision by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court to overturn a restraining order against three Jewish youths who were arrested for saying a Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the Jewish religion, upon which the al-Aqsa Mosque stands.

Palestinian factions in Gaza also issued a warning to Israel on Sunday ahead of the flag march. In a joint statement, the groups said they warned of "harming Al-Aqsa Mosque."

Following those threats, extreme-right Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir announced his intent to visit the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day. "The enemy's warnings won't stop me from going to the holiest place for the Jewish people. On the contrary…We will will come to realize the sovereignty of the State of Israel over Jerusalem," he said.

"I hope that on Jerusalem Day, Israel will take Haniyeh down with a targeted assassination and raise the Israeli flag on the masthead," Ben-Gvir added.

Last week, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai decided to allow the march to pass through Jerusalem's Damascus Gate and the Old City's Muslim Quarter.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Bar-Lev's decision, calling it "a continuation of a dangerous escalation by Israel that threatens to drag the region into an explosion that would be very difficult to control."

Last year, Hamas fired a a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem during the march, prompting Israel and Hamas to fight for 11 days. The war coincided with interethnic riots throughout Israel.

Israel and Hamas, an Islamic group sworn to Israel’s destruction, are bitter enemies that have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

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