The Standard (St. Catharines)

Israeli flag march to go ahead amid unrest

- ILAN BEN ZION

Police on Sunday gave the go-ahead to the annual Jerusalem Day parade, a flagwaving display of Israeli claims to all of the contested city, despite days of unrest and soaring Israeli-palestinia­n tensions at a flashpoint holy site.

Monday’s parade was scheduled to pass through Jerusalem’s Old City, part of east Jerusalem, which was captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. The march was approved amid ongoing clashes between police and Palestinia­ns in the Old City, the emotional epicentre of the longrunnin­g conflict, and in a nearby Arab neighbourh­ood where Jewish settlers are trying to evict dozens of Palestinia­ns from their homes.

Before dawn Sunday, thousands of Muslim worshipper­s skirmished anew with police at the gates of the Al-aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City. Videos on social media showed Palestinia­ns hurling water bottles and rocks at officers, who fired stun grenades.

Amos Gilad, a former senior defence official, told Army Radio that the Jerusalem Day parade should be cancelled or rerouted away from the Old City’s Damascus Gate, saying “the powder keg is burning and can explode at any time.” Israel’s public broadcaste­r Kan said the final route of the parade had not yet been decided.

The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is considered the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. It has been a tinderbox for serious violence in the past.

Dozens of Palestinia­ns were hurt in confrontat­ions with police in Jerusalem overnight from Saturday to Sunday, when Muslims marked Laylat alqadr, or the “night of destiny,” the holiest period of Ramadan.

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