Americans urge Israel to avoid Muslim Quarter in controversial flag march

Despite security agencies' and IDF approval of march via the Damascus Gate to the Old City, Washington warns of further friction and bans its embassy staff from visiting inside ancient city's walls until next week
Itamar Eichner|Updated:
The U.S. administration on Thursday appealed to Israeli officials to express their concern over the controversial right-wing flag march next week and its route through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
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  • The Americans said the march as it was approved, could cause further friction and asked officials in Jerusalem to reconsider their decision.
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    צעדת הדגלים
    צעדת הדגלים
    Right-wing flag march enters Jerusalem Muslim quarter through Old City Damascus Gate in 2021
    (Photo: EPA)
    The annual event, marking the 'reunification' of east and west Jerusalem after the 1967 Six Day War has become a demonstration of Israeli sovereignty over the city by the right-wing and religious population, and includes organized groups of school children from religious schools.
    Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said last week that the police will approve the march based on recommendations from security agencies.
    The U.S. embassy in Jerusalem said it was forbidding its staff and their families from visiting the Old City on Sunday and in fact ordered them to refrain from entering the ancient city's walls from Thursday through Monday.
    The embassy also published a warning to all Americans in the area to be especially vigilant.
    2 View gallery
    תיעוד מהפרות סדר בשער שכם בתחילת חודש הרמדאן
    תיעוד מהפרות סדר בשער שכם בתחילת חודש הרמדאן
    Police clash with Palestinians near the Damascus Gate to the Old city of Jerusalem during Ramadan, last April
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Israel's security agencies and the IDF recommended the route remain unchanged from past years in order not to cause the appearance of weakness after Hamas threatened violence in response to it.
    In discussions, the officials said that if Hamas initiates violence in the wake of the march like it did last year, Israel's response should be significant. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was also decisive in the discussions and said the route must remain unchanged.
    On Wednesday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said participants in the march intend on destroying the mosque on top of the Temple Mount compound.
    "The Palestinian resistance said the march will not go unanswered," leader of the Iran-backed terror group said.

    First published: 16:43, 05.26.22
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