The traditional flag parade on Jerusalem Day will pass through the Damascus Gate this year, and there is no plan to change its usual route – even at the cost of escalation. This is what senior officials in Jerusalem say, ahead of the parade that will take place on Thursday, May 18.
According to senior officials in Jerusalem, this year it was decided that the parade would be handled at the level of the district police. "We don't make a story out of it because there is no need to pick it up," they said. "We do not talk about it and conduct ourselves through backchannels to ensure that the events pass without conflict."
The Parade of Flags, also known as the Dance of the Flags, is held every year on Jerusalem Day to celebrate the unification of the city. The parade is identified with religious Zionism, and every year it is also used by extremist elements to shout racist slogans and confront Arab residents.
In East Jerusalem, the parade is interpreted as provocation and defiance against the Arab residents, and the terrorist organizations take advantage of this to stir up the atmosphere.
In May 2021, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to change the route of the parade, so that it would reach the Western Wall through the Jaffa Gate and not Damascus Gate. Despite the route change, the police canceled the parade about two hours after it began, after rockets were fired at Jerusalem from the Gaza Strip by Hamas – something that also led to the operation Guardian of the Walls. A year later, the Bennett-Lapid government allowed the march to continue on its normal route, ignoring Hamas threats that this would lead to an escalation. Also this year, the plan is to hold the parade on the usual route.