Israel moves forward with Sunday’s flag march despite concerns over violence

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May 27 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett approved a controversial flag march in Jerusalem that will go through the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarters on Sunday, sparking concerns of violence as the event leads to the Western Wall.

Plans for the events were detailed during a security briefing Friday. Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Leve said the march on Jerusalem Day will happen “as it has been customary for most years in the past,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

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Despite fears of stoking emotional reactions from Palestinians in the area, Bennett said it will be “business as usual” through the weekend and the march. Israel put its security forces on high alert ahead of the march, increasing its presence in Jewish-Arab cities.

The U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides contacted Bar-Leve Thursday to express concerns over Sunday’s flag march. Sources said, though, Nides never asked for the parade not to take place.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel would not be intimidated by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

“We will hold whatever kind of march we want to in our capital,” Gantz said, according to the Times of Israel. “You will not threaten our sovereignty.”

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Hamas responded to the flag march in 2021 with a rocket attack that led to an 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Jerusalem Day marks the anniversary of the unification of the city during the 1967 Six Day War. Israeli nationalists have marked the day with an annual march of flag-waving participants, which has paraded through Damascus Gate and densely populated Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall.