Tensions were high in the occupied Palestinian territories on Tuesday as Israeli nationalists rallied in a controversial march on East Jerusalem.
The so-called flag march marks the 1967 anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the eastern part of the city.
“Demonstration is a right in all democracies,” said Israeli Interior Minister Omer Bar-Lev. “The police are ready. We will do our best to maintain the fine thread of coexistence.”
The Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem since the Six-Day War in 1967 has not been recognized by much of the international community, which says the final status of the city should be a matter of negotiation between the two sides.
The Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.
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The Iron Dome defense system was built in southern Israel
The Iron Dome missiles could be seen in southern Israel as the army deployed them in Jerusalem amid rising tensions with the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The decision of the new Israeli government to approve a controversial parade of Israeli nationalists through the Palestinian territories near the Old City of Jerusalem increases the possibility of new confrontations a few weeks after the 11-day war with Hamas.
“Palestinians are very angry”
Hussein Nasser Ed Dean, 35, of the occupied East Jerusalem city of Shuafat, said serious problems could arise if more people gathered at the gates of Damascus to protest against the Israeli march.
But he said that many police officers were present, so they would prevent people from arriving. Most of the problems will be in the Old Town, suggested the logistics officer of the local media.
“The Palestinians are very angry. People are terrified of losing their home forced deportations “Demolition,” Eddin told Al Jazeera.
Khalid Alian, 26, of Jabal al-Mukaber, also condemned Israeli settlers for ousting Palestinians from their homes.
“This is our land, the settlers are taking our land, taking our future and our dreams. Eight of my friends were killed by Israeli soldiers. If you had proof of ownership of your land, how would you feel if you were thrown out to make way for settlers? ” He asked.
Israel is deploying thousands of additional police before the battle
Israeli police say they will deploy 2,000 troops to provide protection for participants in a “flag march” in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation, police forces will be deployed along the routes that the participants will take during the march.
The broadcaster noted that the Israeli police had also decided to increase their presence in mixed cities inside Israel in anticipation of violence.
“All versions of the table,” warns Hamas
When the march was first announced last week, senior Hamas official Khalil Haya warned that it could return to the violence that killed more than 256 people in Gaza last month, up from 11 in Israel.
Hamas spokesman Mohammed Hamadeh said mediators had been in contact with Palestinian militants in recent days, urging them “not to escalate the military escalation on the basis of the march.”
“But all options remain on the table,” said Hamade.
Last month’s conflict erupted after Hamas announced a deadline for Israel to withdraw its forces from East Jerusalem, and then fired rockets at Israel when the ultimatum went unnoticed.
Israeli settlers begin to gather for a nationalist march
Israeli settlers began arriving in the afternoon, accompanied by plainclothes police.
Armed with paramilitary police, other forces patrolled the city streets, set up checkpoints, and closed roads throughout East Jerusalem.
Iron fences were erected at the entrance to the Damascus Gate, where Palestinians said they would gather to resist the Israelis.
Young Palestinian men stood on street corners watching, and Palestinian shopkeepers began to close their businesses. After noon prayers, protests were expected against the march.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been gathering inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex since the morning to prevent the settlers from trying to enter. The cargo of the bus came from inside Israel.
Activists say the clashes will escalate if Israeli settlers stay away from the district. Groups of young men chanted slogans and refused to leave because police were standing nearby.