Occupied Jerusalem (The Inside Palestine)- Thousands of Israelis on Sunday started the annual nationalist “flag march” through Jerusalem, chanting “Death to Arabs”, and insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
At least 40 Palestinians were injured by Israeli occupying forces and settlers using rubber bullets, truncheons and pepper spray, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Some 3,000 Israeli police were deployed for the event that marks the start of Israel’s illegal occupation of east Jerusalem, home of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Across occupied east Jerusalem, Palestinian flags flew defiantly from rooftops and were held aloft on Salahuddin street ahead of the “Jerusalem Day” march, which began at 4:00 pm local time at the Damascus gate, with extremist marchers heading towards the western wall.
At the start of the march, dozens of Israeli nationalists reportedly danced and jeered in front of Palestinians as the police set up road blockades and forced Palestinian businesses to close for the occasion.
In the Sheikh Jarrah area of East Jerusalem, where Israeli settlers have expelled Palestinians from their homes and taken them over, settlers threw rocks at local residents and smashed cars.
Palestinians in the area told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that settlers also fired live rounds at people.
Pro-Israel chants at al-Aqsa
Earlier on Sunday, flag-waving Jewish nationalists chanting pro-Israel slogans, among them far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, visited al-Aqsa flanked by hordes of Israeli police. Meanwhile, Israeli forces barricaded Muslim worshippers inside the mosque.
Police said that some 2,600 right-wing Jews had ascended to al-Aqsa earlier on Sunday morning in the lead up to the march – marking a huge increase, although the march is not supposed to visit the holy compound.
Some of those who stormed the compound with police assistance had “violated visitation rules” and several people were detained, police said without providing further details, before the day’s visits concluded.
One group sang pro-Israel chants, including “Yerushalayim rak shelanou” or “Jerusalem belongs to us only”.
Far-right nationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, who was among those who went to Al-Aqsa, later said his visit aimed “to reaffirm that we, the State of Israel, are sovereign” in the Holy City.
Last year Israeli extremists made their way through the Old City of Jerusalem, chanting ‘death to Arabs’, ‘may your villages burn’, and assaulting Palestinians in a much-delayed event with a lower turnout than expected.
Source: The New Arab