Israelis march in east Jerusalem in test for new government

Israelis march in east Jerusalem in test for new government

Israelis march in east Jerusalem in test for new government

Hamas's warnings appeared to hinge on whether or not the march would pass through the Damascus Gate and into the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

On Thursday, clashes broke out between East Jerusalem protesters and Israeli police, as far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir marched to Damascus Gate.

Police said that officers arrested 17 people suspected of involvement in violence, some of whom threw rocks and attacked police, and that two police officers needed medical treatment.

Medics said 33 Palestinians were wounded.

This is the first violent exchange since Israeli's new coalition government came to power last weekend, headed by Naftali Bennett and drawing an end to Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run as prime minister.

"The right to demonstrate is a right in all democracies", said Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev.

Yair Lapid, the architect of the new government, tweeted he believed the march had to be allowed but that "it's inconceivable how you can hold an Israeli flag and shout, "Death to Arabs" at the same time".

"I am under the impression that the police are well prepared and that a great effort has been made to maintain the delicate fabric of life, and public safety", Barlev said. But police changed the route on Tuesday to avoid the area.

Throngs of mostly young religious men sang, danced and waved flags at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City that was cleared of its usual Palestinian crowds. Tensions at the time were further fuelled by protests over the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers, also in Jerusalem.

Israelis wave national flags during a Jerusalem Day march, in Jerusalem, May 10, 2021. While it was diverted from the Damascus Gate at the last minute, it was seen by Palestinians as an unwelcome celebration of Israeli control over what they view as their capital.

In Israel, at least 13 people were killed as rocket attacks from Gaza had led to the escalation of conflict before Egyptian authorities stepped in to ensure a ceasefire.

The so-called March of the Flags celebrates the anniversary of the city's "re-unification" after Israel captured its east, including the Old City which houses sites holy to all three Abrahamic faiths, in 1967.

Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem is not recognized by most of the global community which says the city's final status should negotiated with the Palestinians - who claim the city's east as the capital of their future state.

The terror group also called on Palestinians to "confront Israeli settlers" during the march.

The targets were used by Hamas' Khan Yunis and Gaza Brigades for "terror activities", according to the IDF.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, called the march an "aggression against our people".

The flare-up, a test for Israel's fragile new government, followed a march in East Jerusalem on Tuesday by Israeli nationalists that had drawn threats of action by Hamas, the ruling militant group in Gaza.

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