The third time was the charm and thousands of ultranationalists from Israel, led by the leaders of the radical party Religious Zionism, carried out this Tuesday the ‘march of the flags’ that took them to the Damascus Gate. The police blocked the access and prevented them from going through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and the protesters remained in the entrance square dancing and shouting slogans such as “death to the Arabs” or “let your villages burn”.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was quick to condemn the act and regretted that “the fact that there are extremists for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and intolerable.” In his opinion, it is “incomprehensible that someone can hold the Israeli flag in one hand and shout ‘death to the Arabs’ at the same time” and in his opinion “these people are a disgrace to the country”, according to statements collected by’ The Jerusalem Post ‘.
The words of the head of Israeli diplomacy and future prime minister in 2023, the date on which Naftali Bennett must rotate his post, signify a radical departure from the discourse of the Benyamin Netanyahu era. Bennett, who was precisely the leader of the settlers for two years, supported the celebration of the march but with a route that did not cross the Muslim Quarter to avoid friction.
Thousands of policemen armored the center of the holy city and the only clashes occurred several hours before the arrival of the ultranationalists at the Damascus Gate. At least 33 Palestinians were injured, according to the Red Crescent, while another 17 were detained, police reported.
When the Jewish protesters reached the iconic Damascus Gate, the place was completely empty, with no Palestinians nearby, and fully shielded by security forces. From there, after an hour of celebration and racist chants, they went up to the Yafa Gate and toured the Armenian and Jewish neighborhoods until they reached the Wailing Wall, where this march commemorating the taking of the eastern part of the city in 1967 concluded. with a group prayer.
The Government of change passed its first great test. The day was fraught with tension after threats from Hamas, which did not rule out the firing of rockets in response to a march that it described as “provocation.” The Islamist group already did so on May 10 when this same demonstration was suspended at the last second by the Police due to the strong tension in the holy city. On this occasion, instead of projectiles from the Strip, incendiary balloons came out, causing several fires.
Hamas’s decision to attack last May was the first step in the eleven-day offensive that killed more than 250 Palestinians, 66 of them children, and 13 Israelis, including a small child. Now a fragile ceasefire is in force and is being negotiated to try to make it durable. The balloon launch had stopped with the truce and Israel had threatened to respond harshly if it happened again.
Once again one of the maxims of the Middle East is fulfilled and on the day when everything was prepared for a great cataclysm, the day passed with an apparent normality. In the future, when no one expects it, the conflict will re-emerge.