Young religious Israelis attending the 'Flag parade' in Jerusalem on May 10, which was cut short due to a barrage of rockets from Gaza

Organizers scrap controversial Jerusalem march over police restrictions

Group behind event accuse police commissioner of capitulating to terror by refusing to allow 'Flag Parade' to pass through Muslim Quarter of Old City; far-right MK says police unable to protect Israeli Jews marching in their own capital

Gilad Cohen, Elior Levi, Elisha Ben Kimon |
Published: 06.07.21, 15:04
A controversial annual parade through Jerusalem by flag-waving right-wing activists was canceled by its organizers Monday after police said it could not take place at the time and along the route they wanted.
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  • The so-called "Flag Parade" normally takes place on Jerusalem Day that falls in May, but this year came to abrupt halt when Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at the capital from Gaza, marking the start of an 11-day conflict.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מצעד הדגלים בירושלים
    מצעד הדגלים בירושלים
    Young religious Israelis attending the 'Flag parade' in Jerusalem on May 10, which was cut short due to a barrage of rockets from Gaza
    (Photo: EPA)
    The rescheduled event was cancelled Monday after organizers rejected a suggestion by police in the capital for an alternative route that would avoid the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
    The march traditionally passes through the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City and proceeds through the Muslim Quarter, ending at the Western Wall plaza.
    The rescheduled parade was seen by some, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, to be an act of provocation that could potentially incite more violence in the city that was wracked by clashes leading up to the Gaza conflict.
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    אזעקות באזור ירושלים
    אזעקות באזור ירושלים
    Israelis run for cover as sirens sound during a rocket barrage on Jerusalem, May 10, 2021
    (Photo: AP)
    "We regret the decision by the police not to allow the march by Jews carrying Israeli flags in our nation's capital," organizers of the march said Monday.
    "The brave spirit of our people and our unity will continue to guide us until we are able to safely march in the streets of Jerusalem. We hope the Israel Police and other officials will reconsider their decision and permit us to hold the event as planned on Thursday."
    Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya had threatened fresh violence had the march taken place.
    "We warn Israel, the mediators and the entire world against allowing the march in Jerusalem to proceed towards the al-Aqsa mosque, and hope this clear message is received so that Thursday does not become a day like May 11, when the first rockets from Gaza targeted the center of Israel," he said.
    The police did not issue an official statement about the cancellation of the march, but the head of the Religious Zionist party, MK Bezalel Somtrich said the decision was taken by Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai.
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    מהומות בלוד
    מהומות בלוד
    Rioting in Lod in May during clashes between Jews and Arabs
    (Photo: Yuval Chen)
    "The commissioner is unable to protect the marchers in the streets of Jerusalem, carrying Israeli flags and is unable to protect the Jewish residents of Lod, Ramle and Accre," said Smotrich, referring to mixed Jewish and Arab cities that sracial violence last month.
    "Now he has put [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar in charge of Jerusalem. This is a humiliating capitulation to terrorism and to Hamas threats. The people of Israel deserve a different leadership that would be stronger and more determined," Smotrich said.
    He said marches would continue "with pride through all of Jerusalem and Jews will settle anywhere in the city."
    Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir, also a member of the Religious Zionist party, said he intended to conduct his own march even if the event were cancelled.
    "The commissioner capitulated," he said urging fellow lawmakers to join him in "exercising our immunity and Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem."
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מצעד הדגלים בירושלים
    מצעד הדגלים בירושלים
    Young religious Israelis attending the 'Flag parade' in Jerusalem on May 10, which was cut short due to a barrage of rockets from Gaza
    (Photo: AP)
    March organizer Shaul de Malach said he was disappointed by the police decision.
    "We expressed our position that it is our right to proudly march in our capital," he said.
    "In line with our values, we will continue to educate our youths to adhere to the law even when we find the decisions made by the police to be wrong. When permitted, we will march to show the world that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel," he said.
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