Israeli Flag March In Jerusalem Can Lead To Violence, Palestinians Warn

Written by on May 16, 2023

Palestinian activists have called for “thwarting” the Jerusalem Day Flag March, scheduled to take place in the city on Thursday. They warned that Jewish “extremists” were planning to use the march to “storm” al-Aqsa Mosque. The route of the march, however, does not include entry into the holy site.The activists said they are also opposed to the march passing through Damascus Gate and the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.A Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah warned Israel against “playing with fire” by allowing the flag march to take place in the Muslim Quarter. The official said that calls by some Jewish groups to “storm” al-Aqsa Mosque compound during Jerusalem Day celebrations could lead to a “big explosion.”The intention of some Israeli ministers to take part in the “provocative” march shows that this government wants escalation with the Palestinians,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. A MAN displays a Palestinian flag across from celebrants holding Israeli flags in Jerusalem’s Old City during Jerusalem Day festivities, last week. (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)Palestinian factions based in the Gaza Strip have reportedly relayed a warning to Israel, through Egyptian mediators, that the Palestinians would not hesitate to resume the fighting with Israel if the status quo on the Temple Mount is altered.Palestinians have accused Israel of planning to divide the compound between Muslims and Jews. They have further condemned visits by Jews to the Temple Mount as violent and provocative incursions “into al-Aqsa.”Daoud Shehab, a spokesperson for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), said the Palestinian factions would be “closely monitoring” the situation in Jerusalem on Thursday.He warned that any Israeli “assault” on the Arab residents of Jerusalem or al-Aqsa Mosque would lead to an escalation. “We won’t tolerate any attack on our people,” Shehab was quoted as saying.As part of the effort to prevent the marchers from entering the Temple Mount, Palestinian activists called on Muslim worshipers to arrive in large numbers at al-Aqsa early Thursday. They also called for raising Palestinian flags in Jerusalem and the West Bank.Some Palestinian activists also used social media platforms to call for attacking Israeli buses and vehicles and blocking main roads in Jerusalem.Similar calls were made ahead of previous flag marches. Palestinians have denounced the march as a “provocation,” saying it has been used in the past by some Jewish participants to attack Arab residents of the Old City.The upcoming march comes days after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ended the latest round of fighting between Israel and PIJ.“The Zionist insistence on holding the flag march in occupied Jerusalem is a provocation against the Palestinian people and all Arabs and Muslims,” said Hamas official Ali Barakeh. “The march constitutes a breach of the sanctity of al-Aqsa Mosque.”Calling on Palestinians to “mobilize” to foil the march, Barakeh warned that the event would “pour more oil on the fire of the ongoing Zionist aggression against our land, people and holy sites.”Senior Hamas representative Osama Hamdan warned of the possibility of renewed violence between Israel and the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip. He told the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen TV station that the latest ceasefire “does not mean that the confrontation cannot return if Israel crosses the red lines.”Hamdan added: “If the [Israel] enemy believes that ending the confrontation means that it can cross the redlines with the march, then it is wrong.”While the Hamas official did not specify the nature of the “redlines” he was referring to, his remarks were seen by some Palestinians as a sign that Hamas is not keen on entering another war with Israel unless a major incident occurs during the parade, especially at the Temple Mount.“If the march is within its traditional character, that is one thing, but if it crosses the redlines, that is another matter,” Hamdan explained.Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem condemned the flag march as “one of the tools of the religious war that the Zionist entity will wage against the identity of al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinians, and the occupied city of Jerusalem.The Popular Youth MovementA group named The Popular Youth Movement in Jerusalem declared Thursday and Friday as “days for the Palestinian flag.” The group called on the Palestinians to raise the Palestinian flag in their communities and on Muslims to converge at al-Aqsa on Thursday morning “to confront the settlers’ incursion and the flag march.”Addressing Israel, the group said: “Your sovereignty over Jerusalem is nothing but an illusion. This city will only be an Islamic and Arab city and will never be a Jewish city.”“Your sovereignty over Jerusalem is nothing but an illusion. This city will only be an Islamic and Arab city and will never be a Jewish city.”Popular Youth MovementTayseer Nasralllah, member of the Palestinian National Council, the PLO’s legislative body, warned that the flag march could lead to further tension and escalation in Jerusalem. Nasrallah said there was “strong rejection” among the Palestinians of the “provocative” march. He predicted that Palestinians would try to foil the march. 

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