Israelis are planning to celebrate Jerusalem Day with the traditional Dance of Flags – now in its 30th year – next Sunday. The High Court has also approved a march through the Muslim Quarter in the Old City, despite an attempt by leftist groups to ban the event.
The Lion’s Gate into the Old City will remain closed to prevent unrest or incitement from Arab demonstrators, police said, despite requests to open it.
Presiding Justice of the Supreme Court Miriam Naor warned police to immediately arrest any participants in the march who called for “death to Arabs.” Likewise, the High Court of Justice, upon appeal, warned there was “zero room for tolerance for those provoking violence, either verbally or physically.”
Naor said such actions in context of a march were not “freedom of speech” but rather “freedom to incite” and could not be allowed under the law.
The petition to block the march was filed by the leftist Tag Meir and Ir Amim groups, which claimed past marches were violent and provocative. The Court ruled against the petition and rejected their appeal as well.
The court also called on rabbis and others at the march to ensure participants maintain a peaceful demeanor.
An open letter was sent to Israel Police Inspector-General Yochanan Danino and Jerusalem District Police Assistant Chief Moshe Edri by outgoing Housing Minister Uri Ariel, demanding the authorities reopen the Lion’s Gate for Jerusalem Day.
But police will maintain the ban against opening the Lion’s Gate, one of seven entrances through the walled ramparts of the Old City.
It was the Lion’s Gate the IDF paratroopers managed to break through to enter the Old City and liberate the Jordan-occupied side of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War. Since the new Light Rail began operations in the capital, however, the Lion’s Gate has been closed to marches due to safety issues.
The Rosh Chodesh march around the Old City walls each month that leads to the Western Wall still passes through the Muslim Quarter as well as the Damascus and Jaffa Gates.
Likewise, security personnel will be on high alert for the day in Jerusalem and around the country as Israel celebrates the reunification of the holy capital.