Clashes Erupt in East Jerusalem as Far-Right Celebrates 50th Anniversary of City’s Occupation

Clashes erupted between peace activists and participants in the annual “Flag March” in Jerusalem, this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “unification” of the city in the Six-Day War, a day marked as Jerusalem Day on Tuesday, May 23. Following the clashes, police forcibly removed the activists, who came to protest the event, journalists and Palestinians at the Plaza outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate.

Border Police arresting a peace activist outside the Jerusalem’s Old City Damascus Gate, Tuesday May 23, 2017

Border Police arresting a peace activist outside the Jerusalem’s Old City Damascus Gate, Tuesday May 23, 2017 (Photo: Activestills)

Earlier, the Supreme Court was asked to overturn the police decision to allow the flag parade to go through a occupied part of the city. The Israeli NGO Ir Amim submitted its petition over what it called the “bizarre decision” by the police to allow some of the marchers to surround the Old City. In the past decade, the police have refused to let marchers take this route for fear of clashes with Palestinian residents.

The petition argued that District Commander Yoram HaLevy’s decision will detrimental for Palestinian residents and traders in the Old City, who will be besieged from all directions. In addition, it will also make driving between the north and south of the city impossible. Among other things, Palestinians will be prevented from being able to travel between the commercial Salah a-Din area and their homes, the petition stated.

Ir Amim has been protesting the Jerusalem Day flag march for many years. It has also complained about the feeble police response to demonstrations of racism and incitement. Last year, the Supreme Court also slammed the police for their inaction.

Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the Joint List, said “For 50 years now the residents of East Jerusalem are living under occupation, without basic human rights, in socio-economic conditions that are only deteriorating… After 50 years of the occupation, it’s clearer than ever that there are two options – ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state or an Apartheid state [of Israel]. There is no other option.”