The police commissioner is “now making [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar the one who runs Jerusalem. This is a shameful surrender to terrorism and Hamas threats,” says right-wing MK Betzalel Smotrich.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The police decided Monday to cancel Thursday’s Flag March in Jerusalem following Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s strenuous opposition to the parade in which thousands of mostly national religious youth dance throughout the capital streets to the Western Wall via the Arab quarter of the Old City.
Religious Zionist Party (RZP) Chairman Betzalel Smotrich slammed Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai for the decision.
“The police commissioner is unable to protect marchers on the streets of Jerusalem with Israeli flags and is unable to protect the Jewish residents of Lod, Ramle and Acre,” he said, referring to the Arab riots in those cities during the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls in which two Jews died and millions of shekels of property damage was caused.
“Now he is also making Yahya Sinwar the one who runs Jerusalem. This is a shameful surrender to terrorism and Hamas threats.”
Hamas chief Sinwar had called for mass Arab protests if the march took place.
In anticipation of the pronouncement, RZP MK Itamar Ben-Gvir said Sunday night that he would march anyway, protected from arrest by his parliamentary immunity.
“If the police do not allow the flag march, I intend to exercise my immunity and march,” he announced.
“Every Jew has the right to march through the streets of Jerusalem,” he added. “I was elected to the Knesset precisely in order to preserve the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”
Reacting to the cancellation, Matan Peleg, CEO of the pro-Zionist Im Tirtzu organization, warned that many recent decisions by Israeli security authorities have been motivated by fear, with potentially dire consequences for the state.
“The State of Israel needs to stop the dangerous decline that it is experiencing on all fronts,” he said. “The IDF is restricting navigation exercises in the Negev out of fear; in Jaffa soldiers can’t walk in public with their uniforms; residents of mixed Jewish-Arab cities are being called ‘settlers’ and are being targeted; and in the capital of Israel, terrorist groups are dictating whether or not people can march with Israeli flags. If we don’t wake up, there won’t be a state left for our children.”
The police had the choice of rerouting the parade to reduce potential flashpoints and security headaches.
The Flag March takes place every Jerusalem Day. It was rescheduled after Hamas fired a missile barrage at the annual event on May 10, triggering the 11-day IDF operation that succeeded in assassinating top Hamas military personnel and massively damaged the terrorist organization’s infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.