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With Scattered Arab Protests, 30,000 Israelis March Through Jerusalem

Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 20, 2012.

Jerusalem Day celebrations, May 20, 2012.
Photo Credit: Stephen Leavitt / JewishPress.com

At least 30,000 people participated in the Jerusalem Day parade known as the Dance of the Flags, interrupted by some clashes between marchers and Arab protesters.

The route went in part through eastern Jerusalem before entering the old city of Jerusalem through the Damascus and Jaffa gates and ending at the Western Wall, where participants sang and danced.

Hundreds of police and security personnel were deployed throughout the city for Sunday’s festivities.

Police were on hand to arrest Jewish marchers for anti-Muslim chants and Palestinians for throwing objects at the marchers.

At the state ceremony marking Jerusalem Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged never to divide Jerusalem.

“Israel without Jerusalem is like a body with a weak heart. Never again will our heart be divided,” he said. “A nation willing to sacrifice its heart would convince its enemies it has no desire to fight for anything. Jewish history has changed forever. The divided city has been united and will stay that way.”

Events were planned all day throughout Jerusalem to mark the 45th anniversary of the city’s reunification.

Israeli lawmakers Michael Ben Ari and Uri Ariel of the right-wing National Union Party led a group of 20 on a tour of the Temple Mount Sunday morning. Ben-Ari and several others reportedly attempted to pray at the site and were stopped by police. The tour’s leader was arrested during a confrontation with police over the prayers.

Palestinian religious leaders in Jerusalem called on followers to confront Jews celebrating Jerusalem Day in the capital and warned that the Jews would try to storm the Temple Mount and attack Muslims.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday approved a series of plans to strengthen the city of Jerusalem and advance its economic, tourist and social development. The Cabinet held its regular weekly on Ammunition Hill, a former military post in eastern Jerusalem and the site of one of the 1967 Six-Day War’s fiercest battles.

JTA content was used in this article.

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