Tens of thousands of Israeli nationalists marched through East Jerusalem’s Old City to mark the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, some of them chanting racist slogans against Palestinians, the police said.
The marchers, predominantly youths with Religious Zionism, a pro-settlement Jewish religious movement, were holding the annual Flag Parade to celebrate so-called “Jerusalem Day” on Thursday.
Israel gained control of Jerusalem during the 1967 war and annexed it shortly afterward, a move that has not been recognised by most of the international community, Xinhua news agency reported.
At Thursday noon, the police shut down hundreds of Palestinian stores along the route through the Old City, in a bid to prevent clashes between Israeli nationalists and Palestinians.
The march started in the western part of the city and continued through the narrow alleys of the Old City’s Damascus Gate until reaching the Western Wall, just below the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a holy flashpoint site.
Photos and video footage on social media showed a group of Israelis beating a young Palestinian lying on the floor. Other marchers were heard chanting “Death to Arabs,” “Burn down the (Arab) village,” and other racist slogans.
Some Israelis hurled objects at journalists, three of whom were lightly wounded. The police said in a statement that two suspects were arrested for throwing objects.
At least three ministers from Israel’s new ultranationalist ruling coalition joined the parade, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
State-owned Kan TV showed Ben-Gvir being surrounded by security guards, waving the flag of Israel. Prior to entering politics, Ben-Gvir was a hardline settler activist and had been convicted in eight separate cases, including charges of supporting Jewish terrorism groups.