By Majeda El Batsh (AFP) – 13 hours ago
JERUSALEM — At least 40,000 Jewish Israelis joined a Jerusalem Day parade in the city’s mainly Arab eastern sector on Wednesday to celebrate its capture 44 years ago, during the Six Day War.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said “more than 40,000 people” turned up for the march, due to end inside the Old City at the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism.
An hour after the event began Rosenfeld said five people had been arrested, among them two leftist protesters and one marcher who entered an east Jerusalem mosque waving an Israeli flag.
“An Arab woman was arrested for chanting anti-Semitic slogans and an Arab man was arrested for spitting at a marcher,” he added.
Five Palestinians were arrested for throwing stones at Israelis in the flashpoint east Jerusalem neigbourhood of Silwan, although this was not directly linked to the march.
At Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Old City from east Jerusalem, Israeli marchers were seen chanting “death to the Arabs” and throwing vegetables, sticks and stones at Palestinians, some of whom threw stones back.
The marchers were to skirt the outside of the city walls to the Dung Gate where they would enter and head to the Western Wall.
Thousands of mainly young people, wearing white and blue in the colours of the Israeli flag, had flooded toward the east Jerusalem district of Sheikh Jarrah and the surrounding streets were gridlocked with traffic.
As the demonstrators arrived, Palestinians in the Old City and elsewhere in east Jerusalem shut their shops to avoid confrontation, leaving the area almost empty of locals.
Most of the flag-waving revellers did not go right into Sheikh Jarrah, preferring to dance and sing on the main road nearby.
Inside the neighbourhood several hundred people gathered, with a group of them trading insults with a protest group of around 30 left-wingers holding banners reading: “Jewish-Arab solidarity against Fascism” and “Illegal settlements in east Jerusalem are an obstacle to peace.”
“The whole sight of it is a provocation. I can’t get to my house, everything is closed off,” local resident Reema Abu Sherif told AFP.
More than 3,000 police were deployed in and around the city to ensure the festivities went off without a hitch, Rosenfeld said, with forces on alert for any friction caused by the march.
The celebrations, which began at sundown on Tuesday and continued through the night, include parties, parades and ceremonies to mark the “unification” of the city following the capture of Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 war.
The yearly parade normally goes down Jaffa Street, the main artery running from the city’s western entrance to the Old City.
But this year, with a new light rail system running the length of the street, the route was shifted to east Jerusalem in a move which police feared might spark clashes.
Sheikh Jarrah has recently seen clashes between Jewish settlers determined to build in the heart of Palestinian areas, and local residents and left-wing protesters who are bent on stopping them.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state, but Israel, which annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community, lays claim to the entire city as its “eternal, indivisible capital.”
“Jerusalem will never again be divided,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a ceremony to mark the occasion on Tuesday evening.
Comment by Adamantine:
Someday soon they will no longer be content to march but will seek to pray and sacrifice on the Temple Mount. Maybe a crisis will cause the nation to seek God and feel the need to do so on the Temple Mount. When it happens maybe they will have been driven to their knees.