Tens of thousands of flag-waving Israelis marched through Jerusalem on Sunday to mark their country’s capture of the city’s eastern sector in 1967’s Six-Day War. Due to the Jerusalem Day holiday coinciding with the final days of Ramadan, tensions were heightened.
The march, which included a large contingent of Jewish religious nationalists, passed under heavy security through the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City in what Palestinians regard as an act of provocation.
Some 3,000 police were deployed, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
“We came to celebrate the day,” said Rina Ben Shimol, who came with her husband and their three young children from Kfar Tavor in northern Israel.
“It is Zionism and it’s to strengthen the link with our origins and with the country.”
Earlier in the day, Palestinian worshippers clashed with Israeli police at a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site, also located in the Old City in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem.
Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound were angered over Jewish visits to the site – which is holy to both religions – in the final days of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
According to police, protesters barricaded themselves in the mosque, from where they threw chairs and stones at forces who “dispersed” them.
The Muslim Waqf organization, which oversees the site, said police used rubber bullets and pepper spray, adding that seven people were arrested and 45 were wounded.
It said police shut and chained the mosque’s doors.
After the clashes, Rosenfeld said calm had returned and visits continued.
Al-Aqsa mosque director Omar al-Kiswani accused Israel of violating an agreement not to allow such visits during the last days of Ramadan.
He said around 1,200 Jews visited the site on Sunday, while a Jewish organization that arranges visits there reported a similar number.
– with reporting by AFP