JERUSALEM (AP) – Police gave the green light to the annual Jerusalem Day parade on Sunday, a display waving the flag of Israeli demands over the entire disputed city, despite days of unrest and rising tensions Israeli-Palestinian in a holy place in flash point.
Monday’s parade will pass through the Old City of Jerusalem, part of East Jerusalem, which was captured and annexed by Israel during the 1967 Middle East War. The march was approved amid ongoing clashes between police and Palestinians in the Old City, the emotional epicenter of the long-standing conflict.
Before dawn on Sunday, thousands of Muslim worshipers again clashed with police at the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City. Videos on social media showed Palestinians throwing water bottles and stones at officers, who fired stun grenades.
Amos Gilad, a former senior defense official, told Army Radio that the Jerusalem Day Parade should be canceled or diverted from the Old City’s Damascus Gate, saying “the powder keg is burning and may explode at any time ”.
The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam. It has been a powder keg for serious violence in the past.
Dozens of Palestinians were injured in violent clashes with police in Jerusalem on the night of Saturday to Sunday, when Muslims marked Laylat al-Qadr, or “Night of Fate,” the holiest time of the month. Muslim fasting of Ramadan.
On Friday, more than 200 Palestinians were injured in clashes inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and elsewhere in Jerusalem, prompting condemnations from Israel’s Arab allies and calls for calm from the United States, the United States. Europe and the United Nations.
Pope Francis said he was following the events in Jerusalem with concern. “I pray that it will be a place of meeting and not of confrontation, a place of prayer and peace,” François declared to the audience gathered at Place Saint-Pierre for his traditional Sunday noon remarks.
“I invite everyone to find common solutions so that the multi-religious and multicultural identity of the Holy City is respected”, declared François. “Violence only generates violence,” he added, calling for an end to the clashes.
The Jordanian foreign ministry said in a statement that the kingdom had “called on the Israeli authorities to cease their violations and to respect the sanctity of the mosque, the freedom of the faithful and the historical and legal status quo”.
Addressing a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel “will not allow any extremist to destabilize the calm in Jerusalem.” We will apply law and order decisively and responsibly. ”
“We will continue to maintain freedom of worship for all religions, but we will not allow violent unrest,” he said.
On Sunday, COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body controlling crossings with the Gaza Strip, said it had suspended the entry of 350 merchants into Gaza until further notice due to the upsurge in violence.
Police spokesman Eli Levi said on Sunday that there were no plans to cancel the Jerusalem Day Parade, despite mounting friction and the potential for violence. He said the police were constantly assessing the situation.
Monday afternoon’s march marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem and is usually followed by die-hard nationalist Israelis, who make their way through the Damascus Gate to the Old City and through the Muslim Quarter. to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.
The annual event is widely seen as provocative, and this year’s parade comes at a particularly volatile time.
The march coincides with an expected Monday ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court on the fate of dozens of Palestinians who are fighting attempts by Israeli settlers to evict them from their homes in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah Arab neighborhood.
Palestinians and international rights groups describe the planned evictions as an ongoing campaign by Israel to expel Palestinians from traditionally Arab neighborhoods, especially in the heart of Jerusalem. Israel has presented the Sheikh Jarrah evictions case as a mere real estate dispute.
The neighborhood has been the scene of regular clashes, especially during Ramadan, between Palestinian residents and their supporters on one side, and Israeli police and Israeli ultra-nationalist activists on the other.
The upsurge in hostilities comes at a crucial time in Israel’s political crisis after longtime leader Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition. His opponents are now working to build an alternative government. If they are successful, Netanyahu will be pushed into opposition for the first time in 12 years.