Chants of ‘death to Arabs,’ clashes mar Israel's Jerusalem Day

Jews, Arabs clash in Old City • 2,600 Jews ascend Temple Mount • 70,000 take part in Israel's Jerusalem Day flag march

 Israelis take part in Jerusalem Day flag march in front of Damascus Gate, May 29, 2022 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israelis take part in Jerusalem Day flag march in front of Damascus Gate, May 29, 2022
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Violent clashes and chants of “death to Arabs” marred Israel's Jerusalem Day flag march in the city’s capital, the highlight of which was a flag march of 70,000 people.

Video from the Damascus Gate showed groups of participants in the march chanting anti-Arab slogans including “Shuafat is on fire,” “Death to Arabs,” “Muhammad is dead” and “the village is burning.”

Palestinian threats

Despite threats from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups in the Gaza Strip, no rockets were fired from the coastal enclave, as they did last year, sparking an 11-day war.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz had warned that while Israel wants peace, it knows “how to fight fiercely if war is imposed on us; And even in our war on terror, we preserve humanity.”

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev said the decision not to cave to Hamas and to hold Israel's Jerusalem Day flag march was correct.

If we had succumbed to the terror threats not to wave Israeli flags in our capital, we will not know one day of silence, and we will find ourselves caving in the future as well.

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev

The march celebrating Israel’s unification of east and west Jerusalem following the Six Day War in 1967 set out for the Western Wall on Sunday afternoon from numerous locations. Women entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate and men entered through Damascus Gate.

Among the participants were members of the right-wing Beitar Jerusalem soccer club fan group, La Familia.

Bar Lev said that “Unfortunately, several dozen rioters from La Familia and the Lehavah organization came to the parade with the clear intention of disrupting it, to incite and to try and harm Arab citizens.

This is ugly racist behavior that cannot be tolerated, and we will continue to fight those groups whose presence endangers Israeli society.

Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev

Police said that some 50 people were arrested in disturbances in the city throughout the day, which began at the Temple Mount, including on the route of the march, especially at the Damascus Gate, and ended in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Policing the city

Over 2,000 Israel Police officers, Border Police officers and volunteers throughout the capital continue to maintain public order and security.

Multiple clashes broke out at the Damascus Gate ahead of the march, with stones and bottles being thrown at police officers.

The security guard belonging to Likud MK Miri Regev’s personal security unit was injured when he was hit in the head by a stone near the Damascus Gate. He was taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

In one of the clashes, police forces used crowd dispersal methods to break up the crowd, arresting three suspects.

A drone flying a Palestinian flag over Nablus Gate was also intercepted by Police out of concern that it could have been used to harm marchers.

Jewish youth at the Damascus Gate were filmed tearing up and burning a Palestinian flag. Jewish youth also danced and sang with the Israeli flag at the site ahead of the march.

Video from clashes near the gate showed Jews and Arabs brawling, throwing objects at each other and spraying pepper spray, and a journalist for KAN's Arab-language news was attacked.

Two men in their 20s from the center of the country were arrested on Monday on suspicion of attacking the journalist, the Israel Police said. They are suspected of attacking him with punches, sticks and pepper spray. 

Palestinian injuries

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, dozens of Palestinians were injured amid violence in and near the Old City of Jerusalem. Four of those injured were transferred to hospitals for further treatment.

Dozens of Palestinians were also injured in clashes that broke out in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah as well as in several Palestinian villages in the West Bank including Huwara, Burin and near Ramallah.

How many Jews visited the Temple Mount?

A record 2,600 Israelis also visited the Temple Mount compound, known to Muslims as al-Haram, al-Sharif.

Among the Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount were MKs Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who just last month was banned from the flashpoint site, saying that it was his right to visit the Temple Mount.

“I expect the police to keep order – when they do that, they [the Palestinians] get the message,” he said. “Even living here upsets them. So what? We should go back to Europe?”

During Jewish visits to the Mount, Palestinian rioters threw chairs and rocks and fired fireworks toward security forces operating at the site as well as toward the Mughrabi Bridge bringing Jewish worshipers to the site, Israel Police claimed.

Palestinians throw fireworks from inside al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount on Jerusalem as Jewish worshipers visit the site on Jerusalem Day, May 29, 2022 (credit: Israel Police).

Video reportedly from the scene showed police closing the doors to al-Aqsa Mosque with chains as rioters inside threw chairs, fireworks and other objects onto security forces from windows above them. Other videos showed Jewish visitors waving Israeli flags and prostrating within the Temple Mount complex.

According to the police, at least 18 Palestinian suspects were detained, as were a number of Jewish visitors who violated visitation rules by waving Israeli flags and delaying the entrance of additional groups.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.