An Israeli man shouts as he gathers with others at Damascus gate to Jerusalem’s Old city marking Jerusalem Day, in Jerusalem May 18, 2023 Photo REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Jerusalem – Israeli nationalists marched through the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City in a heavily secured annual parade as part of Jerusalem Day of ‘Flag Day’. The march commemorates Israel’s capture of the city in the 1967 war. The event, viewed as a show of force by Jewish nationalists, received condemnation from Palestinians who see it as a deliberate provocation aimed at undermining their connection to Jerusalem.
The original route of the march was designed to recreate the path of the Israeli soldiers who captured the Old City on June 7, 1967. However, the current route goes through the Damascus Gate and the heavily populated Muslim Quarters. The march is nothing but the celebration of Jerusalem being ethnically cleansed said, Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway, Chairperson at Al-Aqsa Mosque and Deputy Head of Islamic Waqf.
“Of course, it is about occupation. There are Jews who are fed up with this. It is an occupied city. They [Israeli] talk about celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem. The last time Jerusalem was really unified was pre-1948. When everyone could live anywhere. West Jerusalem was ethnically cleansed in 1948. What happened in 1967, simply the other part of Jerusalem was occupied. So, what is it they are celebrating?”
The march saw enthusiastic Jewish youth chant “Death to Arabs”, “May your village burn”, as well as “the 2nd Nakba is coming” and other slogans which were the cause of the heated confrontations. Several journalists who covered the event were attacked but there were no major security incidents recorded.
The march making its way into Masjid Al-Aqsa
Hundreds of Jewish pilgrims, including members of parliament, “forced” their way into the Al-Aqsa compound. There are reports that some even prayed in Masjid Al-Aqsa and while the incident passed without any violence, Palestinians have been angered by the rising number of Jewish visitors to the compound.
“The issue is, by definition Al-Aqsa is a mosque. It is a mosque for the Muslims. The historical status quo stipulates that only Muslims can worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque and any act that violates this, whether it’s on flag day or any other day, is in violation of this historical status quo. It goes back to the mid 19 century. They entered by force, and I say by force because it is against the will of the Muslims.”
Jordan, which has a custodial role over the Muslim and Christian holy sites of Jerusalem, and Egypt condemned the visits which they say is a provocation that risked escalating tensions.
Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway spoke to Inayet Wadee on what Flag Day is all about and the history of Masjid Al-Aqsa. To hear that, listen to the podcast here: