JERUSALEM — A group of Israeli ultra-nationalists said it is determined to go ahead with a flag-waving march around predominantly Palestinian areas of Jerusalem’s Old City later Wednesday, brushing aside a police ban of an event that served as one of the triggers of last year’s Israel-Gaza war.
Palestinian militant groups said Tuesday evening that they were “raising the state of general alert” and warned against Israeli radicals holding a flag march in Jerusalem.
“At this stage the police are not approving the protest march under the requested layout,” the police said in a statement, without elaborating. They could not be reached for comment Wednesday on whether the march would be banned altogether, or just on the proposed route past the Damascus Gate.
In a similar situation last May, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets toward Jerusalem as Israeli nationalists holding a flag march were making their way to the Old City. The events set off an 11-day war between Israel and the militant group Hamas that rules Gaza.
Israeli-Palestinian tensions have surged in recent weeks after a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, followed by military operations in the West Bank. On Monday, Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel for the first time in months, and Israel responded with airstrikes. These followed days of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem.
Noam Nisan, one of the organizers of the planned march, told Kan public radio that it would proceed as planned on Wednesday. “A Jew with a flag in Jerusalem is not a provocation,” he said.
He said that the demonstration was a response to buses being stoned earlier this week while driving to the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, located in Jerusalem’s Old City.