Thousands of Israeli settlers stormed the al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on May 29. Settlers also attacked Palestinians in different parts of the city during the so-called annual “March of the Flags”, held to celebrate Israeli occupation of the city.
Israeli security forces allowed nearly 70,000 settlers to carry out the march through the old city despite Palestinian objections. The settlers marched with Israeli flags and shouted provocative slogans such as “Death to Arabs”. They also called for the destruction of Palestinian villages.
Palestinians have alleged that settlers were deliberately allowed to enter the al-Aqsa compound by the occupation forces. The settlers stormed the mosque compound through the Damascus gate and raised Israeli flags inside the compound. Some of them were seen praying inside in complete violation of the existing arrangements. The settlers were led inside al-Aqsa by ultra right-wing Member of Knesset (MK) Itamar Ben Gvir.
Opposing the decision to allow the march inside the old city, hundreds of Palestinians came out in the streets defying the Israeli security forces. They shouted slogans against the occupation and waved Palestinian flags.
Israeli forces and settlers unleashed violence on Palestinians in different parts of the city injuring more than 200. Israeli forces also arrested more than a dozen Palestinians.
Every year, Israeli settlers carry out a march of flags to celebrate the so-called ‘Jerusalem Day’ when Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. On previous occasions, the Israeli state has tried to limit the number of people marching inside the city. However, for the last two years, the Naftali Bennett government has been allowing a larger number of marchers despite fear of violence.
After the march, Israeli forces and settlers were found attacking several Palestinian localities throughout the old city, including Sheikh Jarrah, al-Shufaat refugee camp and al-Sumoud refugee camp on Sunday. Settlers also destroyed properties belonging to Palestinians.
Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and other localities in occupied East Jerusalem have been facing settler violence routinely. Gvir has been in the forefront of similar earlier attacks.
[Abridged from Peoples Dispatch.]