August 5, 2021

In Jerusalem, the Israeli government passes its first security test

At the time of reckoning, the “march of the flag” on Tuesday, June 15 in Jerusalem, is a successful test for the new Israeli government. Few clashes, no excesses: the police kept in tight lines the extreme right groups who wanted to march in the Palestinian Old City, after the cancellation of this event on May 10, which they saw as a humiliation.

This stuttering of an Israeli national holiday, which since 1968 has celebrated the Arab conquest of the city the previous year, was a frustrating reminder to its organizers. If it takes weeks of debate, a massive police deployment, the backstage involvement of Egypt with the Palestinians for some 5,000 Jews to march through their capital, this is proof that it remains divided.

For the government of Naftali Bennett, which took office on Sunday, it was above all a question of breaking the status claimed by Hamas as protector of Jerusalem. The Islamist movement had arrogated to it on May 10, by firing a salute of rockets at the Holy City from the Gaza Strip, triggering an eleven-day war.

Hamas gained much popularity with this gesture, which responded to a massive police crackdown on the Esplanade des Mosques (the Temple Mount for Jews), during the holy month of Ramadan. On Tuesday, incendiary balloons released from the enclave sparked about 20 fires in southern Israel, sparking airstrikes against faction positions in the Gaza Strip.

Naftali Bennett, the “liar”

In West Jerusalem, men and women gathered at the end of the day on Haneviim Street, each at one end of the procession. The public holiday, instituted on May 10, 1998, has passed. Most of the Zionist religious schools, which usually dispatch the bulk of the demonstrators, from all over the country, have kept young people within their walls.

Parliamentarians and leaders of extremist groups lead the way, followed by very young people wearing the T-shirts of schools and academies preparing for military service in the colonies of Shomron, Hebron. Some hold up posters denouncing the Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, the ” liar “, from the religious right and guilty in their eyes of having betrayed his camp, by precipitating the fall of Benyamin Netanyahu.

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Near the Damascus gate, Arab employees of a bus company spit on the crowd, then take refuge in a sentry box under police protection, surrounded by a hundred young people. The bulk of the demonstrators are already hitting the wall of the Old City. “Who would have imagined, six months ago, that the oldest entrance to the Old Town would be set up as a lock? “, the historian Vincent Lemire is surprised. On a normal day, Jewish and Arab families pass indifferently through this gate, the main path to the Mosque Esplanade from the modern Arab city, as well as to the Western Wall for the ultra-Orthodox of the neighboring district of Mea Shearim.

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