Police increase presence for 44th J'lem Day events

Patrols to be added to reduce "friction" on both sides as 1967 Six Day War and unification of Jerusalem commemorated.

Jerusalem by night view_521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem by night view_521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Thousands are expected to descend on the capital on Tuesday and Wednesday for the 44th annual Jerusalem Day celebrations, which commemorate the 1967 Six Day War and the reunification of the city.
The main parade will take place on Wednesday afternoon, starting at the tomb of Shimon Hatzadik in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and continuing down Highway 1 toward the Old City.
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Some of the marchers will enter the Old City at the Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Muslim Quarter, and some will enter at the Dung Gate, the closest gate to the Western Wall.
On Monday afternoon, hundreds of flag-waving families gathered in Independence Park in downtown Jerusalem for “A Salute to the Settlement of Jerusalem” rally.
A speech by Interior Minister Eli Yishai was interrupted by residents of the Mateh Yehuda region, who were furious with Yishai’s recent decision to take parts of their villages and give them to Beit Shemesh to build an industrial area and additional housing. They waved signs that resembled checks, made out to “Haredim only.” Yishai was forced to leave the stage.
The rally later marched to Sacher Park for a concert attended by thousands.
Increased patrols of police, border police and volunteers will be in place starting Tuesday morning until the conclusion of events on Wednesday.
“Police will be patrolling in the small alleys inside the Old City in order to reduce friction between the sides and will act decisively against anyone who tries to cause provocations,” said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby.
In honor of Jerusalem Day, “White Night” allnight concerts of popular musicians at the Student’s Day event will be held in Sacher Park on Tuesday night and a series of smaller marches and concerts will take place in downtown Jerusalem in and around Kikar Zion.
A ceremony honoring youth movements will take place at 4 p.m. at Kikar Safra on Tuesday, with more than 3,000 youth expected to attend. On Wednesday, Mayor Nir Barkat will greet the public at the Tower of David Museum from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday’s Flag March, the central event of Jerusalem Day, ran into obstacles this year when the municipality asked the parade organizers to change the route of the march to avoid the light rail tracks.
The parade organizers, a group called Am K’Lavi (Nation as a Lion), took the issue to the Supreme Court. Last week, the court announced that the parade would take alternative routes though the city center, but would allow the march to cross the tracks at Kikar Tzahal near Jaffa Gate.
Parade organizers expressed frustration that the city agreed to stop the light rail tests for the Jerusalem Marathon and Independence Day celebrations but did not want to stop it for Jerusalem Day.
Also on Tuesday and Wednesday, hundreds are expected to mark the anniversary of the death of the Prophet Samuel with visits to the Nabi Samwil National Park, located north of the Ramot neighborhood in an area holy to both Muslims and Jews. The events, which will be secured by the border police, begin with a bonfire lighting ceremony on Tuesday night.