War won’t stop Flag March going through Muslim Quarter on Jerusalem Day

A march demanding an end to the Israel-Hamas war took place Monday in the capital by those opposing the traditional nationalist expression of joy.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The ongoing Israel-Hamas war won’t stop the annual Flag March in the nation’s capital during Jerusalem Day celebrations Wednesday, including its traditional route through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, the police announced Tuesday.

The authorities said that they have no intelligence information regarding any plans to disrupt the parade or harm the tens of thousands of expected participants who traditionally hold Israeli flags while dancing through central Jerusalem to the Western Wall on the anniversary of the day that the city was reunited in 1967’s Six Day War.

While the risk of personal attacks is considered “low,” the police said that there is still “the possibility of rocket fire at the city during the march.”

Hamas has launched rockets at Jerusalem a few times during the current conflict, but none recently.

Critics of the march especially oppose the part where the mostly young and male crowds pass through the Muslim Quarter, considering it an unnecessary provocation.

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Small clashes in these streets of the Old City have often taken place, although the police make sure to have a heavy presence to stop any violence from escalating.

There will be some 3,000 officers on hand this year to ensure the safety of the marchers as well as of those lining the streets to watch them.

A counter-march took place Monday by those opposing the nationalism expressed in the parade celebrating Jerusalem’s reunification.

Saying that the Flag March, which overwhelmingly consists of religious youth, has become a “symbol of violence and occupation,” the organizers brought together about 200 people for a “Jerusalem Interfaith March for Human Rights and Peace.”

Rabbis, priests and sheikhs were among those who attended in order to “send the opposite message, one of peace, justice and equality,” said Rabbis for Human Rights director Avi Dabush.

Dabush is a Kibbutz Nirim survivor of the October 7 Hamas invasion in which 1,200 people were slaughtered in Gazan envelope communities and a dance rave, sparking the war.

Speakers advocated for an end to the war and the return of the 125 hostages Hamas is still holding, dozens of whom are dead.

The small crowd walked slowly up the second half of Jaffa Street, which runs straight through town, and finished at Jaffa Gate outside the Old City, where more speakers addressed the audience and a prayer for peace was recited in both Hebrew and Arabic.

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In 2021, Hamas launched several rockets at Jerusalem during the Flag March at a time of tension over a court-ordered expulsion of Arab squatters from Jewish-owned homes in the Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood.

This set off the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls in the Gaza Strip, with the terror organization firing thousands of missiles indiscriminately over the border and the IDF destroying what it called “significant Hamas military infrastructure,” including parts of a terror tunnel network in Gaza City.

During the current war, the army has discovered hundreds of miles of tunnels throughout the Gaza Strip, putting into perspective the accomplishments the IDF had touted three years ago.