Police on Sunday gave the go-ahead to the annual Jerusalem Day parade, a flag-waving display of Israeli claims to all of the contested city, despite days of unrest and soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a flashpoint holy site. Mondays parade will pass through Jerusalems 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 epicenter of the long-running conflict.
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 defense official, told Army Radio that the Jerusalem Day parade should be canceled or rerouted away from the Old City’s Damascus Gate, saying “the powder keg is burning and can explode at any time.” 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 wounded in violent confrontations with police in Jerusalem overnight from Saturday to Sunday, when Muslims marked Laylat al-Qadr, or the “night of destiny,” the holiest period of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. On Friday, more than 200 Palestinians were wounded in clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem, drawing condemnations from Israel’s Arab allies and calls for calm from the United States, Europe and the United Nations.