Israeli far-right nationalists began a flag-waving march through occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday that risks reigniting tensions with Palestinians and poses an early challenge for Israel’s new government.
At least six Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli forces, and dozens more were assaulted and forcibly removed from the Damascus Gate plaza leading to the Old City.
Metal barriers were set up by Israeli police on the roads leading to Damascus Gate, which has been sealed off to prevent the entry of Palestinians.
The so-called March of the Flags celebrates the anniversary of Israel’s 1967 occupation of the city’s eastern part.
“The right to demonstrate is a right in all democracies,” said Israel’s Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev. “The police is ready and we will do everything in our power to preserve the delicate thread of coexistence.”
Palestinians view the march as provocative as Jewish settlers flaunt their sovereignty over the occupied territory. Previous marches have included Israeli chants of “Death to Arabs” and the attacking of Palestinian homes and shops in the Old City.
Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem since the Six-Day War of 1967 is not recognised by most of the international community, which says the city’s final status should be a matter of negotiation between the two sides.