US pushing Israel to change Jerusalem Day flag march route

The Biden Administration also asked for a reroute last year after Hamas threats of violence. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The United States is urging Israel to leave the Muslim Quarter of the Old City off the flag march route during the annual celebration of Jerusalem Day on Sunday, Times of Israel reported Thursday.

An Israeli official told the news site that the Biden administration is pushing for the change due to the Palestinian threats of violence over the event.

“The U.S. has repeatedly expressed its concern regarding the recent violence in Jerusalem and across Israel and the West Bank,” the State Department explained. “We continue to call on all sides to do their utmost to exercise restraint and avoid provocative actions and rhetoric.”

The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and other assorted Palestinian terrorist groups have warned Israel in no uncertain terms that they consider a mass of Jews waving Israeli flags while walking through Damascus Gate and the Muslim part of the Old City as a “storming” of the Quarter, a “provocation,” and a “crossing of all red lines.”

While the flag march itself ends at the Western Wall, some Jewish groups have announced that they would visit the Mount itself as well, which is Judaism’s holiest place as the site of its two ancient Temples. These groups are mainly Orthodox, and religious Jews skirt the entire Dome of the Rock compound, careful not to enter a mosque.

The terror groups are calling for Muslims to go to the Temple Mount to “confront extremist settlers who are planning to storm into the Aqsa Mosque.”

Such incendiary calls usually bring tens of thousands of Arabs to the Mount, with almost inevitable clashes with security forces ensuing when the most extreme elements among them turn violent.

Hamas has also threatened to launch a rocket attack due to its stated desire to “defend Jerusalem.”

Using Qatari and Egyptian back channels, Israel has reportedly sent a warning to Hamas that it will hit Gaza if the terrorist organization fires rockets at Israel because of the Flag March.

This is the second year in a row that the Biden administration has pushed Israel to reroute the traditional parade after Hamas threatened violence. Israel went one step further and canceled it last year, and only a few hundred young people unofficially marched with flags in the Old City rather than tens of thousands.

The voluntary Israeli restraint had no effect, as the Gaza-based terror organization nevertheless shot a salvo of rockets at the capital. The IDF responded immediately, and the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls began as Hamas escalated the fight, eventually launching thousands more rocket into Israel.

After a request by the Israeli police, however, the march organizers announced Wednesday that they would limit the number of those entering the Old City Sunday. Only 8,000 will be permitted to pass through Damascus Gate to go through the Moslem Quarter to the Western Wall, and another 8,000 will be allowed in through Jaffa Gate and the Jewish Quarter.

Meanwhile, the American embassy issued a security alert to its employees Wednesday, forbidding them from entering the Old City on Sunday due to “ongoing tensions and potential security issues” there.