Jerusalem Day march called off after violence
Organisers of a pro-Israel march through the Old City have cancelled Monday’s event, citing police restrictions amid clashes with Palestinians, but crowds will still gather at the Western Wall.
“The March of the Flags is cancelled,” said the Am Kalavi foundation which organises the “Jerusalem Day” procession to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.
The announcement came after police forced marchers to change their route and avoid entering the Old City through the flashpoint Damascus Gate.
There have been clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police outside the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, ahead of now cancelled Jewish nationalist march.
More than 300 people were injured, as crowds threw stones and officers fired stun grenades and rubber bullets.
It comes amid soaring tensions in the city, which has seen weeks of unrest.
Earlier, Israeli police decided to bar Jews from visiting the compound where the mosque is located during the annual Jerusalem Day Flag March.
The event marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem - home to the Old City and its holy sites - in 1967, and usually sees hundreds of flag-waving Israeli youth make their way through Muslim areas via Damascus Gate, chanting and singing patriotic songs.
It is regarded by many Palestinians as a deliberate provocation. This year’s march is also taking place in the final days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, is located on a hilltop complex known by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and by Jews as the Temple Mount. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and it is the holiest site in Judaism.
The latest violence follows days of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem, with the possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes there by Jewish settlers a focal point for Palestinian anger.
Israel’s Supreme Court had been due to hold a hearing in the long-running case on Monday, but the session was postponed due to the unrest.
Fears had mounted that it would be a tense day in Jerusalem and so it turned out. The confrontation started first thing in the morning.
Hundreds of Jewish activists had planned to go there in the morning, but were ultimately stopped by police.
Muslim worshippers had stayed in al-Aqsa all night - ready, they said, to defend their mosque.- Agencies