Haaretz reported Monday that hundreds of Jewish youths participating in the Jerusalem Day flag procession Sunday shouted anti-Muslim slogans like ‘Mohammed is dead’ at Palestinian protesters gathered at Damascus Gate to protest the holding of the march in Arab neighborhoods. Police separated the protesters from the marchers before the confrontations could escalate.Among the refrains were ‘The Temple will be rebuilt, the mosque will be burned.’ The marchers also shouted that Arabs were ‘sons of whores’ and applauded Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish settler who massacred 29 Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron during the Purim holiday in 1994.
The marchers Sunday also attacked three left-wing activists trying to document the flag procession, they said. One said dozens of marchers surrounded them, shouting ‘Death to the leftists,’ and that a marcher broke the handle of an Israeli flag on her head. The left-wing activists also said the marchers spat at them and threw things at them.
Border Police protected the activists and escorted them away after 10 minutes.
Police arrested 10 marchers suspected of shouting anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slogans, and five Palestinians suspected of throwing objects at the marchers.
Organizers of the march had pledged that unlike last year, participants would not shout incendiary statements. But while the organizers said only a few outliers failed to adhere to that standard, hundreds of young people spent hours shouting at the Palestinians protesting near Damascus Gate.
A large police contingent was deployed at the event, which started in downtown Jerusalem, entered the Old City through Damascus Gate, continued into the Muslim Quarter and ended at the Western Wall.
Most businesses on Hagai Street, the main road in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, closed before the march began, to avoid clashes with the marchers.
Police had planned to change the route of this year’s event to avoid incidents. But they ultimately agreed to allow right-wingers to pass through the Muslim Quarter after speaking to the organizers, who pledged to prevent last year’s ugly scenes.
Throughout the day, groups from yeshivas and high schools also paraded through the contentious East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where several families have been evicted from their homes which have subsequently been turned over to settlers, waving Israeli flags and singing songs about Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to keep Jerusalem united, claiming it was ‘the heart of Israel’.