24 arrested, 3 wounded in Jerusalem Day skirmish
LAST UPDATED: 06/01/2011 21:53
40,000 join flag parade marking anniversary of Six Day War; despite controversial route through Sheikh Jarrah, protesters face off near Old City.
Israeli's march with flags (illustrative) Photo: REUTERS
40,000 people marched through the streets of Jerusalem on Wednesday
afternoon in a show of patriotism honoring the 44th anniversary of the
Six Day War.
Dozens were arrested during the annual Flag Day
parade, which marched through the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh
Jarrah in a departure from the route through the city center used in
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the more controversial route, police said the biggest problems were in
the area of the Damascus Gate and Rehov Hanevi’im, which are part of the
permanent route used in previous years.
A total of 24 people were arrested for disturbing the peace, the majority of them Jewish, the police reported.
people were wounded from rocks thrown on Rehov Hanevi’im next to the
Damascus Gate and Sultan Suleiman Street, one of whom was taken to the
hospital with a head injury.
“In previous years we have also had
problems and violence between the Arabs and the Jews, but in our opinion
the number of arrests [this year] was not small, it was quite large,”
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.
completely under control and different units responded in the way that’s
appropriate, considering there were 40,000 people taking part. The
streets in the Old City are very narrow, and tensions were high,” added
Micky Rosenfeld, National Police spokesman.
The police had increased patrols of policemen, border police, undercover police and mounted patrols starting Tuesday morning.
main route of the parade began in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near
the Shepherd Hotel. Thousands of participants thronged down Highway 1,
waving flags and chanting “Am Yisrael Chai.”
chose to march into the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on a parade route
determined in cooperation with the police.
“This is what it needs
to be,” City Councilor David Hadari (NRP-National Union) said of the
decision to hold the main march inside Sheikh Jarrah.
“We need to celebrate and live and settle in every part of Jerusalem.
happy all the youth came here to celebrate our sovereignty in this
area,” Hadari said, adding that he was working to expand the Jewish
presence in Sheikh Jarrah.
Hadari said he was working with
organizations who had already secured ownership of dozens of properties
around the Shimon Hatzadik tomb, and that Jewish families would move
into the neighborhood in as little as two years.
Sheikh Jarrah, most of the march was peaceful, with ecstatic groups of
young people cheering, singing and breaking into spontaneous dance.
residents watched warily from the sides. “This year is much worse than
other years,” said 37-year-old Sheikh Jarrah resident Samir, who watched
the parade from his friend’s flower shop. “It sends a clear message.
Look at them, they’re celebrating...it’s
a provocation. Why are they doing it in an Arab neighborhood?” he asked
as a truck went by with a band of yeshiva students playing “Zeh Hamakom
Sheli” (This is my place).
Samir said that in previous years,
there had been small groups of young people who had marched around the
neighborhood, but that this year was larger than any he could remember.
added that Sheikh Jarrah residents did not know that the parade would
be held inside their neighborhood until they saw police setting up
barricades in the morning.
“There will be more problems, there will never be peace,” Samir said.
just came to make trouble, they scream ‘death to Arabs!’ and ‘Arabs are
trash!’” The highest point of tension inside Sheikh Jarrah was at the
tomb of Shimon Hatzadik, where 50 left-wing protesters, who demonstrated
without a permit, faced off against 50 right-wing protesters while
Jewish music blared from the speakers of the yeshiva next to the tomb.
Police tried to separate the two groups.
Dozens of right-wing
teenagers surrounded an Arab house after they said one of the children
spat on them, and started hitting left-wing protesters who stood in
front of the house with flag poles.
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), denounced the left-wing protesters as “racist anarchists.”
“These racist Jews are fighting against Jews, and they should go home,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
Ben-Ari accused the left-wing activists of inciting the Arab residents and slammed the police for being too lenient with them.
a separate incident, a marcher entered a mosque in Sheikh Jarrah with
an Israeli flag and was arrested by police forces. The marcher was taken
into custody for interrogation along with three others.
the incident, Arab children climbed on top of the roof of a tall
building next to the mosque and raised five Palestinian flags, prompting
raucous boos from the thousands of demonstrators below.
marchers were arrested near the Damascus Gate for allegedly attempting
to assault Arabs while calling out nationalistic slogans. A woman was
also arrested in the area for yelling anti-Semitic epithets at marchers
Border police arrested seven people for throwing
stones at police forces in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on
Wednesday, as well. The suspects were taken into custody for
Increased patrols of police, border police and
volunteers were put in place in the capital until the conclusion of
events on Wednesday.
The Flag March has taken place annually
since 1976, as traditionally thousands of people marched from the city
center down Rehov Yaffo to the Kotel.
This year, the municipality
refused to halt the light rail tests for the parade, forcing Am K’Lavia
(Nation Like a Lion), the parade organizers, to take the case to the
Supreme Court. Ultimately, the parade was rerouted to begin in Sheikh
Jarrah and end at the Kotel.
“This is not about the march making a
controversial statement,” Meir Indor, an activist with Am K’Lavia and
one of the parade organizers, told the Post before the parade. He said
the route was decided as a “technical issue” due to the light rail, but
that the parade organizers laughed when they saw how the parade would be
“After all the protests from the anarchists, it’s time
to show for once who this city really belongs to,” he said, referring
to the weekly protests in the area by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity
“[The route] just shows how much Jerusalem is so tiny and so close to
one another, if a big crowd wants to march, this is the place they
choose. It shows how much the city is small and can never be divided,”
He added that part of the route through Sheikh Jarrah would be following
the path that the paratroopers took in 1967 on their way to Ammunition
Ben-Ruby said he did not know if the parade would use the same route in
the coming year. He added that police would assess the security
situation on Thursday to determine the additional patrols needed for
Friday prayers and Sunday’s “Naksa Day,” when Arabs mark the “setback”
anniversary of the Six Day War.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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