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Israeli settlers reschedule anti-Palestinian march in East Jerusalem

The 'Flag March', which marks the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, had been cancelled last month amid rising tensions
Israeli police block the area around Jerusalem's Old City during the cancelled Flag March on 10 May 2021 (AFP)

Israeli settler groups announced on Friday their plans to resume the anti-Palestinian "Flag March", a month after it was cancelled amid heightened tensions in occupied East Jerusalem.

Usually held on the occasion of Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s capture and subsequent occupation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, the so-called Flag March typically brings together thousands of young, far-right religious Israelis, to chant anti-Palestinian slogans and wave Israeli flags as they pass through the small streets of East Jerusalem's Old City.

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Initially scheduled for 10 May, the route of the Flag March had been diverted away from the flashpoint Damascus Gate amid Palestinian protests against the planned forcible removal of Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, and Israeli forces' violent raids at al-Aqsa mosque.

The march was called off that day, when sirens went off after Hamas fired four rockets from the besieged Gaza Strip onto the outskirts of Jerusalem, following the expiry that day of its ultimatum calling on Israeli forces to withdraw from al-Aqsa.

The Flag March has now been rescheduled for Thursday 10 June, with Israeli settler groups planning to proceed through the Old City's Damascus Gate, an important symbolic gathering space for Palestinian Jerusalemites, at 6:30pm and reach the Western Plaza, where prayers will be performed at 9pm.

The organisers have called the parade “a victory for a free Zionist Jerusalem over the axis of evil and darkness", according to Israel Hayom, a newspaper close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In April, Israeli settlers marched in the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City chanting “Death to Arabs”, sparking clashes between Palestinians and Israeli military police, who barred the former from sitting in the Damascus Gate plaza.

Tensions in East Jerusalem sparked widespread protests in the occupied West Bank and among Palestinian citizens of Israel in May, while Israeli forces and Hamas waged an 11-day war, killing 248 people in Gaza and 14 in Israel, that ended in a ceasefire on 21 May.