Far-right Israeli groups march through East Jerusalem on Tuesday in a procession of flags that threatens to fuel tensions with Palestinians in the disputed city and rekindle violence between Israel and militants in Gaza.
Attacking the march as a “provocation,” Palestinian factions called for a “day of rage” in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Islamist leaders in Gaza, Hamas, have warned of a resumption of hostilities if they continue.
“We warn of the dangerous repercussions that could result from the occupying Power’s intention to allow extremist Israeli settlers to hold the flag march in occupied Jerusalem tomorrow,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Twitter.
An original march was diverted to avoid the Muslim Quarter of the walled Old City on May 10 when tensions in Jerusalem led Gaza’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, to fire rockets at the holy city, helping to trigger 11 days of deadly fighting.
Download the NBC News app for the latest news and politics
Israeli rightists accused their government of giving in to Hamas by changing its course. They rescheduled the procession after a truce in Gaza was struck by the Egyptian.
Tuesday’s march, set to start at 6.30 p.m. (3.30 p.m. GMT), poses an immediate challenge for new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who took office on Sunday and ended the record reign of veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bennett’s Homeland Security Minister approved the march on Monday.
A change of itinerary or the cancellation of the procession could expose Bennett’s motley coalition to accusations by Netanyahu, now in opposition, and his right-wing allies of giving Hamas a veto over events in Jerusalem.
“The time has come for Israel to threaten Hamas and not for Hamas to threaten Israel,” prominent far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Twitter.
The official route of the march has not yet been announced. Israeli media reported that police will allow participants to assemble outside the Damascus Gate in the Old City, but will not allow them to cross into the Muslim Quarter, which has a predominantly Palestinian population.
Palestinian protests were scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. GMT) across the Gaza Strip, and Hamas and the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Palestinians to flock to the Old City to counter the march.
“Tensions (are) on the rise again in Jerusalem at a very fragile and sensitive political and security moment, as the UN and Egypt are actively engaged in the consolidation of the ceasefire,” the Minister said. UN envoy to the Middle East Tor Wennesland on Twitter.
“Urge all parties concerned to act responsibly and to avoid any provocation that could lead to a new round of confrontations,” he said.
The IDF made preparations for a possible escalation in Gaza during the march, Israeli media reported, and the US Embassy in Jerusalem banned its employees and their families from entering the Old City on Tuesday. .
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a state they seek to establish in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem in a move that failed to gain international recognition after capturing it in a 1967 war, regards the entire city as its capital.