Hamas Threatens Military Action Over Jerusalem Flag March

Alonzo Simpson
June 16, 2021

In annexed east Jerusalem, more than one thousand people took to the streets in a delayed and controversial march by nationalist and far-right activists.

Explosions were heard in Gaza City in the early hours of Wednesday.

Tuesday's march, due to begin at 6:30 p.m. (1530 GMT), poses an immediate challenge for new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who took office on Sunday and brought veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu's record-long rule to an end.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, called the march an "aggression against our people".

The air raid marks the first hostility between Israel and Gaza militants since a * a href="https://newswire.storyful.com/storylines/*/stories/254540?search_term=ceasefire" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ceasefire" class="link rapid-noclick-resp" *ceasefire came into effect on May 21, ending an 11-day conflict that left 257 Palestinians and 12 Israelis dead.

The so-called March of the Flags celebrates the anniversary of the city's "reunification" after Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967 and annexed it, a move not recognized by most of the worldwide community. Palestinians in Gaza responded by launching incendiary balloons that caused at least 10 fires in southern Israel, according to the national fire department.

Medics said 33 Palestinians were wounded and police said two officers were injured and 17 people arrested.

Yair Lapid, the architect of the new government, said on Twitter that he believed the march had to be allowed but that "it's inconceivable how you can hold an Israeli flag and shout, "Death to Arabs" at the same time.These people are a disgrace to the nation of Israel".

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Though there were concerns the march would raise tensions, canceling it would have opened Mr Bennett and other right-wing members of the coalition to intense criticism from those who would view it as a capitulation to Hamas.

Mr Abbas said the police and public security minister should have canceled the event.

An original march was re-routed to avoid the Old City's Muslim Quarter on May 10 when tensions in Jerusalem led Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas to fire rockets towards the holy city, helping set off 11 days of deadly fighting. Palestinian protesters repeatedly clashed with Israeli police over restrictions on public gatherings during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in April and May.

Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip killed 260 Palestinians including some fighters, the Gaza authorities said. Hamas called on Palestinians to "resist" the march.

Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza did not immediately respond with rocket fire into Israel, but the situation along the Israel-Gaza border remains extremely tense, and the possibility of an imminent and serious escalation can not be ruled out.

"Urge all relevant parties to act responsibly & avoid any provocations that could lead to another round of confrontation".

Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem is not recognized by most of the global community which says the city's final status should negotiated with the Palestinians - who claim the city's east as the capital of their future state.

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