Americans for Peace Now (APN) is extremely concerned about the possibility of a violent flare up Thursday, as thousands of Jewish ultra-nationalist zealots provocatively march in East Jerusalem to assert Israel’s sovereignty and intentionally offend Palestinian Muslims. The Israeli government could have and should have banned the march to prevent a violent flare up, which could lead to a regional outbreak of hostilities.
The so-called “Flag March” has in recent years become the centerpiece of Israel’s Jerusalem Day. The march brings thousands of Jewish national-religious zealots to Arab East Jerusalem and the Old City. The marchers taunt Palestinians using physical and verbal violence, compelling Palestinian merchants to close their shops and stay home. In past years, the march triggered violence. This year, on the heels of Israel’s six-day mini-war with Gaza’s Islamic Jihad, tensions are high and Palestinian factions have threatened a violent retaliation in case Israeli extremists “cross red lines.”
Another unusual feature this year would be the presence of several government ministers and coalition Knesset members at the march’s main rally at the Damascus Gate Plaza.
APN’s President and CEO Hadar Susskind said: “We strongly believe that the Israeli government should ban this annual ritual of bigotry and hatred. The Flag March horror show is a disgrace and should not be embraced by the state or local authorities and should be shunned by Israeli leaders. We will be following Thursday’s events in Jerusalem with deep concern and a heavy heart, while urging all parties involved – Israelis, Palestinians and others – to avoid violence.”