15 arrested in clashes marring Jerusalem Day (JERUSALEM POST) By MELANIE LIDMAN 05/21/12)
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Fifteen people were arrested during clashes outside Damascus Gate
during the annual Jerusalem Day Dance of Flags on Sunday, when 50,000
people marched through the streets of the capital toward the Western
The march commemorates the anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War, when
IDF soldiers liberated the Old City and the Temple Mount from
Jordan’s Arab Legion.
Five Arabs were arrested for throwing objects at the marchers, and 10
Jews were arrested for chanting racist slogans.
Nevertheless, the day was calmer than last year, when the parade
began in east Jerusalem and there were clashes along the length of
the route. Last year, 24 people were arrested.
This year, the clashes were concentrated at Damascus Gate. Large
groups of Orthodox boys chanted, “Death to Arabs!” and, “Revenge on
Palestine!” while catcalling and applauding each time police removed
an Arab demonstrator.
A small group of left-wing activists stood on the Arab side of the
street with signs reading “Jerusalem Day, not my holiday.” Arabs
shouted, “Allahu akbar!” and one woman waved a Koran.
Mounted police dispersed the protesters whenever one side became
violent. The two sides of Sultan Suleiman Street were separated by a
permanent steel fence meant to discourage jaywalking on the busy
“When we deal with celebrations, we also have to deal with any
tensions,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. “Every year there
are tensions, but security assessments were made and we will separate
between the sides.”
Most stores in the Damascus Gate area were closed after police sent
letters to owners recommending they close at 4 p.m. to avoid
confrontations with the marchers.
“This is nothing new, people are scared anyway and they don’t want
anything to happen to their shops,” said Suheil, who lives inside the
Old City next to Damascus Gate. “There’s a word here, a word there,
and suddenly there’s a big problem.”
Other than in the Damascus Gate area, the parade proceeded without
incident as thousands of people celebrated Jerusalem Day. As in
previous years, men and women were separated as they danced to live
bands and waved flags. The bands included a chorus of eight-year-old
haredi (ultra-Orthodox) boys dressed as sailors singing the Brazilian
Women entered the Old City through Jaffa Gate.
In the morning, three right-wing activists were arrested on the
Temple Mount, after a group started praying there in honor of
Jerusalem Day. National Union MKs Michael Ben- Ari and Uri Ariel
joined the activists in the pilgrimage.
During a tour of the site, Ben-Ari and a number of the other
activists started praying out loud. Police immediately asked Ben-Ari
to stop. After a number of the people refused to stop, they were
arrested. The rest of the tour continued as planned.
Due to status quo agreements, Jews are allowed to visit the Temple
Mount during certain hours but are not allowed to openly pray.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, an activist and the spokesman for Ben-Ari, accused
the police of incitement.
“Police are doing the work of the Wakf [Islamic trust],” he said.
“We came today to remind the entire world what Mota Gur [the
commander of the division that liberated the Old City in 1967] said –
‘The Temple Mount is in our hands!’” Uriel said in a statement
released by his office. “The site is under Israeli sovereignty and
therefore the Israeli government must allow every Jew to realize his
autonomous rights and to go up to pray on the Temple Mount.” (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/21/12)
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