Israel’s police attacked Palestinians in the area of the Damascus Gate (Bab al-Amoud) in occupied East Jerusalem, on Tuesday, June 15, injuring dozens and detaining 17, in the hours leading up to the Israeli “Flag March” scheduled to take place within Jerusalem’s Old City later in the day.
Forces attacked Palestinians, severely beating them with sticks, batons, and rifle butts, and firing live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets to force them to evacuate the area outside the gate on the north side of the early 16th century city walls which leads directly to the Moslem Quarter. At least 33 Palestinians were injured in the melee, including four who were evacuated to hospital.
Ahead of the march, Israeli forces also blocked all access to the area of the Damascus Gate, sprayed Palestinians with wastewater, forced shop owners to close their shops, and intensified their normal repressive restrictions against Palestinians. As agreed ahead of time with the police, the Jewish marchers did not enter the Old City via the Damascus Gate but rather through the Jaffa Gate several hundred meters to the southwest.
On Tuesday, occupation security forces also attacked peaceful demonstrations held in other Palestinian cities to protest Israel’s provocative “Flag March,” which celebrates the Jewish state’s conquest and subsequent occupation of East Jerusalem in the June 1967 War. A rally held in Bethlehem was attacked with rubber-coated metal bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas causing many, including three journalists, to suffer breathing seizures due to the inhalation of tear gas. At the entrance to Hebron’s al-Aroub refugee camp, similar clashes took place as Israeli forces attacked Palestinians protesting the Jerusalem march, causing many to experience choking and other breathing difficulties as tear gas canisters were fired towards Palestinian protesters and residents’ homes.
Prior the racist “Flag Parade,” the Joint List issues a statement lambasting the new government’s decision to authorize the march through Jerusalem’s Old City. “Too many people have paid with their lives for the previous provocation of the Kahanist right. Racist Kahanists should not be allowed to march in East Jerusalem and shout, ‘Death to the Arabs.’ This is not legitimate protest, rather incitement.” “Bloodshed is bad for Palestinians and Israelis alike and only good for the far right, which wants to perpetuate hatred and violence.”
Joint List chair MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), speaking from north of the Damascus Gate plaza on Tuesday afternoon as the extreme right-wing Israeli crowd bearing national flags made its way there, told reporters that East Jerusalem and its Old City will one day be the capital of Palestine. “On these walls the flag of Palestine will be hoisted and East Jerusalem will be the capital of liberated Palestine,” he predicted to journalists attending the press conference.