Far-right Israeli groups will march in and around East Jerusalem’s old city on Tuesday in a flag-waving procession that risks igniting tensions with Palestinians in the embattled city and rekindling violence between Israel and Gaza militants. stir up.
Attacking the march as a “provocation,” Palestinian factions have called for a “Day of Rage” in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Gaza’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, have warned of renewed hostilities if it continues.
“We warn of the dangerous consequences that could result from the occupying power’s intention to allow extremist Israeli settlers to carry out the Flag March in occupied Jerusalem tomorrow,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Twitter.
An original march was diverted to avoid the Muslim quarter of the old city on May 10, when tensions in Jerusalem prompted Gaza’s Muslim rulers, Hamas, to fire rockets at the holy city, helping spark the momentum. bringing 11 days of deadly fighting.
Israeli rightists accused their government of invading Hamas by changing its route. They rearranged the procession after a ceasefire was held in Gaza.
Tuesday’s march, which begins at 6:30 PM (1530 GMT), poses an immediate challenge to new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who took office on Sunday and ended the record-long rule of veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bennett’s Secretary of Homeland Security approved the march Monday.
A change of route or cancellation of the procession could expose Bennett’s patchwork to accusations by Netanyahu, now in the opposition, and his right-wing allies of giving Hamas veto power over events in Jerusalem.
“The time has come for Israel to threaten Hamas and not for Hamas to threaten Israel,” prominent far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Twitter.
An official route for the march has not yet been announced. Israeli media reported that police allow participants to congregate outside the Damascus gate of the old city, but do not allow them through to the Muslim quarter, which has a predominantly Palestinian population.
Tensions will certainly be high whether the route is changed or not. Palestinian protests were scheduled for 6pm (1500 GMT) in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas and the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have called on Palestinians to come to the Old City to counter the march.
The Israeli military has been preparing for a possible escalation in Gaza during the march, Israeli media reported, and the US embassy in Jerusalem banned its employees and their families from entering the old city on Tuesday.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem, including the Old City, to become the capital of a state they want to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem in a move that failed to gain international recognition after taking the area in a 1967 war, considers the entire city its capital.