Tens of thousands of people attended the annual Jerusalem Day Flags March on Sunday.
The march started in downtown Jerusalem and ended in a ceremony at the Western Wall. Identified mainly with the National Religious stream, marchers passed through Wadi Street in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.
Most groups stopped at Damascus Gate to sing and chant before entering the Muslim Quarter.
The group sang “Am Yisrael Chai
” (the nation of Israel lives) and “Yibaneh Hamikdash
” (the Temple will be rebuilt); some also sang the controversial song “Zochreni nah
” (Please Remember Me), in which Samson calls for revenge against the Philistines – sometimes marchers switched the word to “Palestinians” instead.
In several instances, The Jerusalem Post
witnessed policemen or security guards asking the groups to stop singing controversial songs. Policemen also confiscated flags of the extreme-right group Lehava being waved by some marchers.
Except for minor incidents in the area of Damascus Gate, the march passed with almost no clashes or confrontations between the marching groups and local Palestinians.
Throughout the afternoon, police placed and then lifted random temporary checkpoints to prevent people – Jews and Palestinians alike – from passing in and out of the route of the march.
Police also did not prevent shops from opening in the Muslim Quarter.
Shopkeepers told the Post that police had approached them before the march and told them that they could leave their shops open, but at certain points in time, it would be hard to protect them.
Throughout the march, policemen and security guards stood in front of the few shops that did choose to stay open, and prevented scuffles between shopkeepers and the march attendees. Left-wing activists came to express solidarity with the shopkeepers.
A ceremony was held at the Western Wall when the march ended.
When the speakers mentioned the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
, which is expected to take place on Monday, or the name of US President Donald Trump, the crowd cheered.
Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett reiterated in his speech the historic connection between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem.
“When King David’s people came and conquered the city from the hands of the Jebusites, they said: ‘Jerusalem is ours.’ [And while in the Diaspora] in Yemen, in Poland, in Morocco, in Iran, in Iraq, in Germany – Jews said in their heart every day: ‘Jerusalem is ours.’” The Temple Mount movement launched a wide-scale campaign calling on the public to come and visit the compound on Jerusalem Day; 2,084 Jewish worshipers did just that.
Although forbidden by police, some Jewish worshipers bowed in prayer on the Temple Mount and captured the action on videos shared on social media.
The Israel Police said in a statement that “during a Jewish tour on the Temple Mount, some of the visitors broke the rules and caused a provocation, after which they were forced to leave the place in order to identify them and understand the situation.
“The Israel Police is working with a wide range of checks and balances while making sure that law and the rules of the place are enforced, and will not let anyone break the law,” they added.
In the morning, clashes erupted between police forces accompanying the visitors and Palestinians who protested against the Jewish presence at the compound.
A police spokesman told the Post that no arrests were made throughout the entire day.
In light of the morning’s events, left-wing non-profit organization Ir Amim researcher Aviv Tatarsky said, “Police are once again wrong for cooperating with the Temple Mount movement. They allowed the entrance of large groups to the compound and the activists took advantage of it to break the status quo,” he said.
“The policemen [who were present at the scene] refrained from acting against this breach of the status quo and instead acted violently against Palestinian protesters,” he added.