East Jerusalem: Israelis attack Palestinians in divisive far-right ‘Flag March’

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  May 18, 2023

Israeli minister joins thousands at the rally associated with violence against Palestinians and ‘display of incitement, Jewish dominance and racism’.

Israeli police officers and ultra-nationalists attacked Palestinians in Jerusalem on Thursday as the divisive “Flag March” through the Muslim quarter of the Old City was underway.

Videos shared online showed Israeli civilians, protected by police, beating Palestinian residents of the city. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of Israelis began to arrive at Damascus Gate in the Old City to join the annual march, which is held on the “Jerusalem Day” holiday commemorating the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. 

The event is associated with violence against Palestinians and the “display of incitement, Jewish dominance, and racism,” according to Israeli NGO Ir Amim.

Among the participants on Thursday was Israeli Transport Minister Miri Regev from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.  

Under heavy security, marchers at Damascus Gate were seen chanting racist slogans, waving the Israeli flag and dancing as more people are expected to join.

Israeli police deployed some 3,000 officers to secure the rally, which is meant to demonstrate Israel’s “sovereignty” over Jerusalem.

Middle East Eye correspondent Latifeh Abdellatif said all roads leading to the Damascus Gate have been blocked. 

Abdellatif added that Israeli police refused to let her in from one entry point despite showing them a press card, forcing her to travel further to enter from another road. 

Many other journalists and Palestinian were denied access to the area. 

Another “Flag March” took place earlier in the day in Lydd, a city in central Israel, known as Lod and home to a large Palestinian population. 

Violent history

In previous years, Israeli participants in the “flag march” assaulted Palestinians and trashed, spat on and graffitied Palestinian businesses and homes on their route. 

They also chant slogans such as “death to the Arabs [Palestinians]”, “the second Nakba is coming” and “Muhammad is dead,” referring to Islam’s prophet.

Earlier in the day, Israeli settlers and politicians broke into Al-Aqsa Mosque as part of the “Jerusalem Day” celebrations. One person was filmed insulting Prophet Muhammad while inside the mosque’s courtyards. 

Several lawmakers were in their ranks, including Negev/Naqab and Galilee Development Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf, who belongs to the far-right Jewish Power party. 

Three MPs in the Likud party, Dan Illouz, Amit Halevi and Ariel Kallner, also partook. 

Jordan condemned the storming and warned that the “provocative” march could lead to an escalation in Jerusalem. 

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed it in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community. 

Israel’s control of the city violates several principles under international law, which stipulates that an occupying power has no sovereignty in the territory it occupies and cannot make any permanent changes there.