High alert for Jerusalem Day Flag March; 'Iran is inciting terrorism against the marchers'

The security establishment estimates that National Security Minister Ben-Gvir will not go up to the Temple Mount, but if he wants to do so he will need the prime minister's approval; Thousands of police officers will secure the events in the capital

Liran Tamari, Itamar Eichner, Einav Halabi, Gilad Morag|
Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai warned Wednesday night ahead of the Flag March scheduled to take place Thursday in Jerusalem, that "terrorist elements motivated by Iran, through Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are sowing false information on social networks about the route of the Flag March - and their purpose is to create wild incitement to terrorism against the thousands of Israelis who will mark Jerusalem Day with a series of events."
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The commissioner noted that thousands of police officers and security guards will be deployed Thursday in Jerusalem, as part of a high alert in the capital.
"The route of the march has been held for decades, and it will not change tomorrow either," Shabtai added. The commander of the Jerusalem District, Superintendent Doron Turgeman, also said that inciting images against the participants have been posted on social media. "Incitement on social media is increasing using lies, intimidation and slogans that have no basis in reality," he said.
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מצעד הדגלים נעצר בשער שכם
מצעד הדגלים נעצר בשער שכם
The Flag March at the Damascus Gate
(Photo: AFP)
The warning of senior police officers in Jerusalem corresponds with the appeals of the Palestinian terrorist organizations to the residents of the eastern part of the city, the West Bank and Israeli Arabs. They called on them to come to Al-Aqsa Mosque Thursday out of fear that the "red line," as they defined it, would be crossed. The Flag March route, it should be emphasized, is not planned to go through the Temple Mount at all – but through the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan warned Wednesday that "the Al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line," and said: "We will defend it with our souls and blood. We will not allow the status quo to change."
Islamic Jihad, against whom the Shield and Arrow operation in Gaza ended only in the last few days, said: "We will treat the cease-fire agreement that we signed as a worthless paper. We will not allow the occupation to cross the red lines."
Alongside the security tensions in the capital arising from the very existence of the parade, Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, has not yet announced whether he intends to go up to the Temple Mount as he did in previous years on Jerusalem Day. Last year, as a Knesset member in the opposition, Ben-Gvir went up to the Temple Mount and wrote on Twitterr: "This morning, Jerusalem Day, we went up to the Temple Mount. We will not give in to the threats of the terrorist organizations - we are the owners of the house in Jerusalem."
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Itamar Ben-Gvir on Temple Mount compound
Itamar Ben-Gvir on Temple Mount compound
Itamar Ben-Gvir on Temple Mount compound
(Photo: Courtesy)
The security establishment does not expect Ben-Gvir to visit the Temple Mount on Thursday, but this may change – and reach the doorstep of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will have to make a decision on the matter. In addition, Netanyahu was scheduled to decide sometime Wednesday night about other lawmakers who want to visit the site.
Despite the threats, there is no incentive for Hamas or the Islamic Jihad to act against Israel - and security officials believe that the probability that an unusual event will occur is very low. In Israel, they are working to avoid friction.
In the meantime, the petition submitted to the High Court by the Ir Amim association and some residents of East Jerusalem, who sought to prevent the holding of two more marches that are supposed to connect to the main parade, was rejected. The High Court wrote in its decision that: "In these circumstances, and especially in light of the explicit reference to the fact that this is not about changes in relation to the past and that care that will be taken in maintaining the relevant instructions, we found no reason for our intervention."
The court also wrote: "The police are confident that they will fulfill the role assigned to them in an optimal way, out of public responsibility and recognition of the complexity of the task assigned to them." The state's request to obligate the petitioners to pay court costs was not accepted.
The marches that are at the center of the petition are supposed to go from the Mount of Olives neighborhood to the Western Wall. According to estimates, about 850 people are expected to participate. Another march is expected to start from the Beit Orot neighborhood to the Western Wall, where, according to estimates, about 200 people will participate.
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