A march with Israeli flags through the Old City of Jerusalem will not happen on Thursday. The police didnt approve the route. Ultranationalist protesters wanted to walk through the Damascus Gate, passing Sheikh Jarrah, the district in East Jerusalem where four Palestinian families are in danger of being expelled from their homes. Hamas would have threatened renewed violence if the march were to take place.
The march was originally planned on May 10, the day when Israel celebrates that East Jerusalem was conquered in 1967. Palestinians saw this as provocation, especially given the impending evictions. Due to tensions, the route was modified at the last minute and the march was aborted prematurely. Hamas nonetheless fired missiles on Jerusalem that day. It followed eleven days of air strikes on Gaza by the Israeli army and further missile fire by Hamas.
The protesters now wanted the march to take place again via the original route. The organisers and ultra-right politicians are now blaming the police for “capitulating to terrorism”, says Itamar Ben-Gvir of the far-right party Otzma Yehudit. Hamas sees the decision as proof that Israel now “sees the dangers of crossing this red line”, says a spokesman against Reuters news agency. The Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz had already asked the police not to allow the march, so that the tensions between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians do not rise again.
At the same time, the expulsion of the four Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah may have come a step closer. This case was one of the reasons for the tension between Israel and the Palestinians, which subsequently led to the armed conflict in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Supreme Court is discussing whether the Palestinian families can appeal against their eviction. The proceedings were postponed last month, after Israeli Chief Prosecutor Avichai Mandeblit said that he might want to interfere in the case. The hope was that this would remove the pressure from the boiler. Now Mandelblit says not to interfere with the case. This leaves the way for court treatment.
Watch this video from our correspondent Ties Brock about the background of the dispute:
Two activists from the families who may be evicted were arrested yesterday by the Israeli police. According to the police, they would have contributed to disturbing the peace in the district. A journalist from Al Jazeera was also arrested on Saturday.