Planned Jewish nationalist ‘Flag March’ is a festival of hate

Israeli Jewish nationalists march through East Jerusalem as part of the annual 'March of the Flags' (Baraah Abo Ramouz - APA Images)

Tamara Nassar

The Electronic Intifada  /  May 29, 2022

Thousands of Israeli Jewish nationalists intend on staging a major provocation in occupied East Jerusalem on 29 May, despite warnings from the Palestinian resistance in Gaza.

The Jewish extremists plan to hold their annual “March of the Flags” on what they call Jerusalem Day, an Israeli-invented holiday celebrating its occupation and colonization of the city in 1967.

In previous years, the event has been a festival of hate, with marchers, including children terrorizing Palestinian residents and chanting such genocidal slogans as “death to the Arabs”, Let Palestine be “wiped out” and “Muhammad is dead” – a denigrating reference to the prophet.

Fully knowing this, Israeli police have nonetheless approved a route for Sunday that would allow the Jewish extremists to march through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, as they have done in previous years.

But occupation authorities have said they will “cap” the number of marchers to 16,000.

“Half the group will march through the Old City via the Damascus Gate, while the other half will go through Jaffa Gate, likely only skirting the Muslim Quarter,” according to The Times of Israel.

Israel will also deploy 3,000 officers to “secure the rally.”

But that will offer little comfort to Palestinians, who still face the prospects of thousands of anti-Palestinian extremists, backed by occupation forces, forcing their way through the Old City’s narrow streets.

The Jewish nationalists also know very well that Israeli police almost never subject them to the kind of brutality regularly used against Palestinians: tear gas, live fire and rubber-coated metal bullets. This means that if they decide to defy police orders, they will be able to do so with impunity.

Sunday’s march is set to take place despite stern warnings from the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, said in a pre-recorded message on Monday that the group is prepared to defend the al-Aqsa mosque compound using “all capabilities.”

Haniyeh warned “the enemy not to commit such crimes,” adding, “Our decision is clear, no hesitation or faltering.”

Last year, Israeli attacks on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque compound led to a military confrontation between Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza and Israel that lasted 11 days and killed more than 250 Palestinians.

It was the first time Palestinian resistance groups launched a major military operation from Gaza specifically in response to Israeli aggression in Jerusalem. This denies Israel the assurance that it can carry on as it wishes in the city without risking a much broader confrontation it may want to avoid.

Israeli police chief Kobi Shabtai raised alert levels in Jerusalem ahead of the march. Israel is also reportedly contacting Hamas through mediators in Qatar and Egypt in a bid to keep violence from escalating.

‘We’re coming to dismantle the Dome of the Rock’

Meanwhile, on Saturday, left-wing Israeli groups planned to raze a settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank. Israeli police clamped down on the protest and arrested activists.

Prior to the event, the groups had published a flyer on Facebook proclaiming, “We’re coming to dismantle the Homesh outpost.” It shows a bulldozer destroying a building.

The flyer also bears the logos of the liberal Zionist groups sponsoring the event, including Peace Now and Breaking the Silence.

The construction of all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is a war crime under international law.

But Homesh, an outpost near Nablus, is not authorized by Israel. It is one of the four tiny West Bank settlements removed in 2005, at the same time that Israel removed its occupation forces and settlers from the interior of the Gaza Strip.

But some settlers have maintained an unauthorized presence in Homesh with the tacit support of Israeli leaders.

Bentzi Gopstein, the head of the extremist Jewish nationalist group Lehavaposted a photo-shopped version of the flyer on his Telegram channel.

The text was changed to read, “We’re coming to dismantle the Dome of the Rock”. An image of the Jerusalem shrine that is part of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound was inserted under the teeth of the bulldozer.

Gopstein may have been trolling the liberal Zionist groups, but many Jewish nationalists like him are open about their intentions to destroy the Muslim holy sites.

The so-called Temple Movement, which enjoys support from many Israeli leaders, aims to take over Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and build a Jewish temple there.

This apocalyptic plan, if implemented, could ignite a global religious war. It is why Palestinians insist on defending Jerusalem, particularly their holy sites, from any further settler encroachment.

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada