May 22, 2022

An Israeli police officer blocks proper wing activists from marching towards Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis, on April 20.Ariel Schalit/The Related Press

Police blocked roads to stop a whole lot of ultra-nationalist Israelis from marching round predominantly Palestinian areas of Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis on Wednesday, after an identical occasion almost a 12 months in the past helped set off an Israel-Gaza battle.

Police used parked vehicles and barricades simply outdoors the partitions of the Outdated Metropolis to shut the primary highway main all the way down to Damascus Gate, the epicentre of final 12 months’s unrest. After some pushing and shoving with police, the marchers rallied close to the barricades, waving flags, singing and chanting.

Israeli police deployed in giant numbers across the historic Outdated Metropolis, house to main spiritual websites for Jews, Christians and Muslims, out of concern that confrontations may additional inflame an already tense state of affairs through the Jewish vacation of Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Tensions have surged in latest weeks after a sequence of lethal assaults inside Israel, adopted by navy operations within the occupied West Financial institution. On Monday, Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip into Israel for the primary time in months, and Israel responded with air strikes.

The alternate adopted days of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, recognized to Jews because the Temple Mount.

The hilltop shrine in Jerusalem’s Outdated Metropolis is the third holiest in Islam, whereas for Jews it’s their holiest web site, the place two temples stood in antiquity. It’s the emotional floor zero for the Israeli-Palestinian battle and a flashpoint for earlier rounds of violence.

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Earlier on Wednesday, a small group of Palestinian protesters threw rocks at police whereas a whole lot of Jewish guests entered the flashpoint holy web site.

Beginner video from the scene appeared to indicate police utilizing sponge-tipped plastic projectiles meant to be non-lethal because the protesters barricaded themselves contained in the mosque. Police mentioned a firebomb thrown by one of many protesters set a carpet outdoors the mosque on fireplace, nevertheless it was shortly extinguished. No accidents had been reported.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which guidelines the Gaza Strip, mentioned Wednesday forward of the march that Israel would bear “full duty for the repercussions” if it allowed the marchers “to method our holy websites,” with out elaborating.

Itamar Ben Gvir, an ultranationalist lawmaker who steadily levels provocative visits to Palestinian areas, attended the rally and was greeted with cheers. He’s a disciple of a radical rabbi whose violently anti-Arab ideology was as soon as shunned in Israel however is now having a revival.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett mentioned in a press release that he would bar Mr. Ben Gvir from going to Damascus Gate. “I don’t intend to permit petty politics to hazard human lives,” he mentioned.

Final Could, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired rockets towards Jerusalem as a a lot bigger group of hundreds of Israelis held a flag march to the Outdated Metropolis following weeks of protests and clashes in and round Al-Aqsa. These occasions led to an 11-day battle between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli nationalists stage such marches to attempt to assert sovereignty over east Jerusalem, which Israel seized within the 1967 Mideast battle, together with the West Financial institution and Gaza, and annexed in a transfer not acknowledged internationally. The Palestinians search an impartial state in all three territories and contemplate east Jerusalem their capital.

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Organizer Noam Nisan defended the march in an interview with Kan public radio earlier than it was held, saying: “A Jew with a flag in Jerusalem isn’t a provocation.”

He mentioned the demonstration was a response to Palestinians pelting buses with stones simply outdoors the Outdated Metropolis earlier this week. The assault occurred close to an entrance resulting in the Western Wall, the holiest web site the place Jews can pray, which is subsequent to Al-Aqsa.

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