Tensions rose high on occupied Palestinian territory on Tuesday as Israeli nationalists rallied over a controversial march on East Jerusalem.
The so-called March of the Flags celebrates the anniversary of the 1967 Israeli occupation of the eastern part of the city.
“The right to demonstrate is a right for all democracies,” said Israeli Homeland Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev. “The police are ready and we will do everything in our power to preserve the delicate thread of coexistence.”
The majority of the international community has not recognized the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem since the 1967 six-day war, which says the city’s final status should be a matter of negotiation between the two sides.
The Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.
Here are the latest updates:
Israeli forces are closing the streets leading to the Damascus Gate
Israeli forces closed roads leading to the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem, while others forced Palestinians out of the gate leading to the Old City.
Videos shared on social media showed that Israeli police forces installed metal barricades, blocking all roads to the door.
Occupation forces close streets leading to Bab al-Amud and prevent Jerusalemites from arriving in preparation for the settlers’ flag march. pic.twitter.com/PjGxlRrkkD
– AlQastal Al Qastal (@AlQastalps) June 15, 2021
Translation: Israeli forces close streets leading to the Damascus Gate and prevent Jerusalemites from arriving in preparation for the “Flag March” of the settlers.
Violence erupts between Israelis and Palestinians
Israeli special forces troops attacked young Palestinians who were assaulted while fleeing to occupied East Jerusalem.
Nearby, police attacked an old Palestinian on crutches and an elderly woman.
A video shared on social media showed several Israeli policemen beating a Palestinian near the Damascus gate as they dragged him down a ladder.
Nablus Gate, 5 cops !! Because? pic.twitter.com/vfxkuXtgLa
– Real News IL (@RealNewsIL) June 15, 2021
Translation: Damascus Gate. Five cops! Because?
Fatima Khader, 62, of the Old City, denounced the confiscation of her home by Israeli settlers and the imprisonment of her children.
“My house was taken by the Israelis. I was attacked by Israelis, “he told Al Jazeera.” There is no international law that protects us, what law is this? I am old, my children were taken and put in prison. “
Palestinians throw incendiary balloons at Israel during the march
Palestinian activists threw incendiary balloons and stars from the Gaza Strip into areas of southern Israel.
“The stars are responding on Tuesday to the provocative flag march in East Jerusalem,” a Palestinian activist who identified himself as Abu Houzayfa told Anadolu Agency.
Balloons or incendiary stars contain flammable material or cloths soaked in oil that can ignite fires once they land on crops.
Israeli police seal the gate of Damascus
Palestinian media reported that Israeli police forces prevented Palestinians from reaching the Damascus gate in the old city of Jerusalem.
Videos posted on social media showed that Israeli police were installing metal barricades while Palestinians had blocked the passage through the barriers.
The occupation prevents people from reaching Bab al-Amud during this time pic.twitter.com/eeA1HE0nR4
– AlQastal Al Qastal (@AlQastalps) June 15, 2021
Translation: Israeli forces prevent Palestinians from reaching the Damascus Gate.
“Clear provocation,” the Israeli councilor says
Laura Wharton, Jerusalem City Councilwoman, told the Associated Press that she considered the planned march to be “completely ridiculous”.
“It’s a clear provocation from right-wing extremists who are dissatisfied with the government, dissatisfied with many things and are going to undo their frustrations to Old City residents,” Wharton said.
The march poses an early test for Israel’s fragile new government, which was sworn in on Sunday and includes parties from across the political spectrum.
The cancellation of the march would have opened Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other right-wing members of the coalition to intense criticism from those who would see it as a capitulation to Hamas rulers in Gaza.
The Iron Dome defense system was prepared in southern Israel
The batteries of the Iron Dome missile defense system could be seen in southern Israel, as the army deployed them amid tensions with Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
The decision of the new Israeli government to grant approval for the disputed parade of Israeli nationalists through Palestinian areas around the old city of Jerusalem raises the possibility of resuming clashes a few weeks after an 11-day assault on Israel and Gaza.
“Palestinians are very angry”
Hussein Nasser Eddin, 35, of Shuafat in occupied East Jerusalem, said there could be major problems if more people gathered at the Damascus gate to confront Israeli protesters.
But he said there is a lot of police to prevent people from coming. Most of the problems will be in the Old Town, the logistics officer suggested with local media.
“The Palestinians are very angry. People are afraid of losing their home with forced expulsions and demolition, ”Eddin told Al Jazeera.
Khalid Alian, 26, of Jabal al-Mukaber, also denounced Israeli settlers for forcing Palestinians to leave their homes.
“This is our land and the settlers take our land and take our future and our dreams. Eight of my friends were killed by Israeli soldiers. If you had documents proving ownership of your land, how would you feel if you were evicted to make way for settlers? ” he asked.
Israel deploys thousands of additional police before the march
Israeli police said they will deploy 2,000 forces to provide protection to participants in the planned “flag march” throughout occupied East Jerusalem.
According to the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation, police forces will be deployed in the vicinity of the routes that participants will take during the march.
The station said Israeli police also decided to strengthen their presence in mixed cities within Israel in anticipation of violence.
“All options on the table,” warns Hamas
When the march was originally announced for last week, senior Hamas official Khalil Hayya warned he could return to the violence that killed more than 256 people in Gaza and 11 in Israel last month.
Hamas spokesman Mohammed Hamadeh said mediators had been in contact with Palestinian armed groups in recent days to ask them “not to take part in a military escalation on the basis of the march”.
“Still, all the options are left on the table,” Hamadeh said.
Last month’s conflict began after Hamas issued a deadline for Israel to withdraw its forces from the flaming areas of East Jerusalem, and then fired a rocket rescue at Israel when the ultimatum was ignored.
Israeli settlers begin gathering for the nationalist march
Israeli settlers began arriving at noon while being escorted by plainclothes police.
Heavily armed paramilitary border police and other forces patrolled the city streets, set up checkpoints and blocked roads throughout East Jerusalem.
Iron barriers were placed outside the entrance to the Damascus Gate, where Palestinians said they would gather to confront the Israelis.
Young Palestinians were on the street corners watching and Palestinian shop owners began to close their businesses. Protests against the march were expected after noon prayers.
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque precinct since morning to prevent settlers from attempting to enter. Bus loads came from the interior of Israel.
Activists say that if Israeli settlers move away from the enclosure, the clashes will be less intense. Groups of young boys chanted slogans and refused to walk away while police were nearby.