Israeli forces have arrested at least 17 Palestinians and injured dozens more as police used rubber bullets to disperse counter-protesters to a march by Israeli ultra-nationalists through occupied East Jerusalem.
Thousands of far-right Israelis took part in the so-called “Flag March” through Palestinian neighbourhoods, chanting racist slogans including “Death to Arabs”, “May your village burn” and “A second Nakba is coming”.
Anger at the nationalist march, which was in celebration of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, also spread to Gaza, where hundreds joined protests. Reports suggest that at least one Palestinian was shot with a sniper rifle.
While Israeli police ostensibly attempted to keep the two groups apart, the focus of their attention appeared to be on Palestinian protesters, and keeping them away from the Israeli marchers, who included several members of parliament.
The events come just weeks after protests against attempted to forcibly displace residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, the repeated storming by Israeli forces of the Al Quds Mosque and the 11-day war on Gaza. Many saw the eventual ceasefire in Gaza as being a humiliating defeat for Israel – one of the most advanced military powers in the world.
With those recent events in mind, Israeli authorities attempted to reroute the march away from some Palestinian areas. However, many Palestinian families still faced the prospect of being physically and verbally abused as the far-right Israelis passed their homes.
Barriers were erected around Damascus Gate in the Old City, preventing Palestinians from entering the area as thousands of Israelis waved their national flag and chanted obscenities and threats against Arabs.
At least two attempts by Palestinians near Damascus Gate to raise the Palestinian flag saw Israeli forces snatching the flags away, as a sea of blue and white Israeli flags continued to be waved.
According to the Red Crescent, injuries to Palestinians have included those caused by rubber bullets, batons and stun grenades. The NGO said that more than 33 Palestinians had required medical treatment following attacks by Israeli forces.
Occupation forces also fired numerous tear gas canisters at Palestinians. The Israeli marchers saw little such response.