Palestinians warn against Jerusalem Day Flag March through Damascus Gate

Last year, rockets were fired towards Jerusalem during the march, despite the route being changed to Jaffa Gate.

Itamar Ben-Gvir waves a flag at the Jerusalem Flag March on June 15 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Itamar Ben-Gvir waves a flag at the Jerusalem Flag March on June 15
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip warned Israel against allowing the Jerusalem Day Flag March to enter the Old City through the Damascus Gate, saying it will "not allow the enemy to cross the red lines drawn" during Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Sources from the factions told the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news that they had sent messages to Israel saying that they would not allow the Flag March to pass as planned and would not allow the "red lines" drawn during the operation last year to be crossed.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources told the Al-Quds newspaper that the factions had sent "clear warnings" to Israel against holding the Flag March and against allowing Jews to enter the Temple Mount in large numbers on Jerusalem Day.

According to Al-Quds, the threats were transferred through more than one channel, with the factions warning that Israeli steps in Jerusalem would have "great consequences" and that the march would not be allowed to go unnoticed. The factions warned that they would "not stand idly by" regarding what they called "the continuation of this escalating Israeli aggression," which they said aims to "drag the region into a greater escalation."

The Al-Quds report stressed that the factions are frustrated with the failure of mediators to "curb" Israeli actions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Al-Quds had reported on Wednesday that the factions were planning to hold a series of meeting in the coming days concerning the situation in Jerusalem and the West Bank and the possibility of taking "deterrent steps" against Israel.

Young Jewish men celebrate Jerusalem day at the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, June 2, 2019. (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)Young Jewish men celebrate Jerusalem day at the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, June 2, 2019. (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

While the Flag March usually passes through both the Jaffa and Damascus gates, last year it only entered through Jaffa Gate. Despite the change, rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Jerusalem while the march was in progress, sparking an 11-day war.

Last month, right-wing activists – including Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben-Gvir – organized a march and attempted to enter through the Damascus Gate. They were stopped by police who rerouted them through the Jaffa Gate because of tensions in the capital.

Bar Lev decides to let Flag March through Damascus Gate

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev decided after a situation assessment on Wednesday to allow the Flag March to return to its traditional route through the Damascus Gate, taking place this year on May 29.

Organizers of the march welcomed the decision, saying, “There is nothing more suitable than a happy and unifying march, from the west of the city to the east, through the places that the IDF liberated 55 years ago, on the holiday of the capital of Israel.”

The right-wing Im Tirtzu organization said, “For a change, this is a great decision by the public security minister. [This is] a decision that will strengthen sovereignty in Jerusalem. The Damascus Gate in particular and east Jerusalem as a whole are an integral part of Jerusalem. We will march with love, Zionism, non-violence and great joy to celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem from the Arab occupation. Being a Jew in the capital is not a provocation, it is an ancestral right!”

Meretz MK Esawi Frej condemned the decision, tweeting that it a “dangerous and worrying mistake. The purpose of the march in the heart of east Jerusalem is not [for] the good of Jerusalem, but the desire to burn it, so I intend to work to change the decision, to avoid its dangerous consequences.”

The march comes after weeks of tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Clashes have broken out multiple times on the Temple Mount in the past month, as Palestinian factions called on Arabs to confront Jewish visitors to the site. In the West Bank, Israeli forces have conducted large arrest campaigns as part of Operation Break the Wave against the recent wave of terrorist attacks.

Tensions in Jerusalem

On Monday night, violent clashes broke out in east Jerusalem as the funeral party of a Hamas member walked through the Temple Mount and other nearby locations.

The Al-Quds newspaper reported on Wednesday, based on “informed Palestinian sources,” that mediators have been “unable to curb the occupation and stop its continuous attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank.” This, the paper said, was pushing the Palestinian factions to “change its approach and study new options.”

The sources told Al-Quds that the factions would hold a series of meetings in the coming days to discuss the repercussions of the current situation, and will consider “taking deterrent steps” against Israel.