Photo Credit: National Photo Archives / GPO
The traditional flag parade on the occasion of Jerusalem Day in the city streets. (archive)

Jerusalem Police are mulling the merits of changing the route of the traditional Flag Dance March that is set for Monday afternoon, and which takes place every Jerusalem Day / Yom Yerushalayim.

The move could come due to concerns over the continuing Arab violence in the city.

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Hundreds of Arab rioters hurled stones at Jerusalem Police officers stationed at the entrance to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus. Many of the rioters were Arab residents of Jerusalem’s Issawiya neighborhood.

Three police officers were injured in the violence and numerous cars were damaged. Three attackers were arrested.

During the incident – which police succeeded in ending – “students and faculty members who still remained on campus were instructed to remain in the buildings to maintain their safety. No faculty member or university student was injured,” the Hebrew University said in a statement.

Arab riots and terror attacks in Jerusalem and surrounds began more than three weeks ago – since the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan – and have escalated since that point.

In light of the continuing and escalating violence, Jerusalem District Police Chief Superintendent Doron Turgeman said Sunday night that the route of the Flag Dance March will be decided only on Sunday morning, a few hours before the scheduled event.

“Tomorrow we will assess the situation and decide whether to allow the march to pass through the Nablus Gate,” Turgeman told the Hebrew-language N12 television news outlet.

Police will make the decision in accordance with a situation assessment and according to the final decision of the political echelon, Turgeman said. He added that a decision on permitting ascents to the Temple Mount by Jewish visitors will also likewise be made Monday. “We are prepared for any scenario,” Turgeman said.

The Flag Dance March celebrates the reunification of the holy city following the 1967 capture of eastern Jerusalem areas from Jordanian occupation – including the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

The event is set to begin Monday at 4 pm, stepping off from King George Street.

The march ends at the Western Wall, moving into the Old City via the Nablus (Damascus) Gate and passing through the Muslim Quarter, adjacent to the holy site.

Security officials called on the government to “rethink” the annual Jerusalem Day parade, known as the Flag Dance, due to Arab violence that has escalated over the past three weeks and especially in the past 48 hours.

Government officials have been urged by security heads to reconsider the route of the parade, as well as the number of marches – if not the entire event.

Israel Police reinforced its forces in Jerusalem before this weekend due to the rising Arab violence in the city. The events this year are being secured by some 3,000 police officers and Border Guard Police.

Police said some 85,000 of Arabs streamed into Jerusalem this weekend – the final weekend of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — to attend prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

Among those who came to attend prayers were some who came solely for the purpose to agitate and cause conflict in the city.

More than 200 rioting Arabs and at least 17 Israeli police officers were injured in the riots that took place Friday and Saturday on the Temple Mount and near the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.