Jerusalem Day is being celebrated across Israel on Sunday, marking 49 years since the capital's reunification in the Six-Day War. The planned events are already looking towards next year and will mark the beginning of a jubilee year for Jerusalem.
In coordination with the day's festivities, the government has decided to create a museum on the city's reunification on Ammunition Hill, where the state ceremony to mark Jerusalem Day will be held at 7:30pm.
On Thursday, the government took the controversial decision to establish a national museum for the reunification of Jerusalem and the heritage of the Six-Day War. The plan to transform the site, run so far by a private organization, to a national museum run by the Defense Ministry and funded by the state, had been stalled because of former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon's objection. But with his appointment of his successor, Avigdor Lieberman, a green light to proceed has been granted. Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin and Lieberman filed the draft resolution together, which received the blessing of the prime minister.
At 11am, a state memorial service took place for Ethiopian Jews on Mount Herzl. At 2pm, a state memorial service was held for the fallen soldiers of the Six-Day War. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat held a reception for citizens of the capital from 3:30pm to 5pm at the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem in the Old City.
As every year, at the center of the festivities will be the traditional Flag Dance procession, organized by the Am K'lavi association. The parade began at 4m in the city center and will continue to the Western Wall via Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter. The Israel Police have advised that they will operate "uncompromisingly against any attempt to violate law and order" and called on the participants "to refrain from physical or verbal violence."
Because Ramadan is to begin on Sunday night, the police decided to move up the procession's timing and not permit the participants to proceed from Tzahal Square to Damascus Gate after 6:30pm.
The organization Ir Amim ("City of Nations") petitioned the High Court of Justice to divert the procession's route so that it would not pass through the Muslim Quarter. According to the petition, the procession causes damage to the residents of the Old City and makes accessing Al-Aqsa Mosque more difficult. The petition further claimed that the police had trouble in the past enforcing the law and did not successfully prevent incitement or violence.
The Israel Police claim that the petition was filed too late, but Ir Amim countered that the police only authorized the current route over the weekend. The High Court rejected the petition on Sunday morning, holding that the procession may cross through the Muslim Quarter, but did rule that it must end by 7pm to allow time for all the participants to vacate the area.
In addition to the Flag Dance procession, the Yerushalmit Movement organization is organizing a family procession departing at 4:30pm from Oranim Junction towards the Station Complex, where an event to celebrate the holiday is to take place. Starting in the afternoon, performances and other events organized by neighborhood councils are to take place across the city, culminating with the Student Day celebrations in Sacher Park with a marathon of performances that are to last all night. Included performers are Ouzo Bazooka, Hadag Nahash, and Aviv Geffen VeHaTa’uyot.