JERUSALEM: More than a thousand ultranationalist demonstrators bearing Israeli flags poured into Jerusalem’s flashpoint Old City on Tuesday in a march that posed a key test to Israel’s new government on its second full day in office.
With tensions high amid a month-old ceasefire that ended days of deadly fighting between Israel and Gaza militants, police deployed heavily, blocking roads and firing stun grenades and foam-tipped bullets to remove Palestinians from the main route.
Medics said 33 Palestinians were wounded and police said two officers were injured and 17 people were arrested.
The demonstration triggered protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and prompted rebukes and warnings from Israel’s allies, but ended without major incidents.
The so-called `march of the flags’ celebrates the anniversary of the city’s “reunification” after Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and annexed it, a move not recognised by most of the international community.
Tuesday’s demonstration was originally scheduled for early May, but cancelled twice amid police opposition and threats from Hamas, the group that controls the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
The demonstration centred on the Old City, which houses the Al Aqsa mosque compound.
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2021