There were easily 50,000 (and probably far more) participants attending the annual rally at the Western Wall on Thursday evening to celebrate Israel’s 56th Jerusalem Day, having walked to the site from the early hours of the afternoon to honor the holy city. The Kotel was so packed with people towards the end of the parade that the entrances to the Kotel (and at one point Jaffa gate) were forced to be closed for lack of room.
The annual Jerusalem Day Flag Parade passed without incident despite a litany of dire threats from Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization that ultimately were not borne out. The parade stepped off from central Jerusalem at 4 pm, and made its way toward the Old City of Jerusalem, Israeli flags waving proudly all the way through.
Prayers, a special ceremony, dancing and singing took place at the Western Wall Plaza to celebrate the reunification of Israel’s eternal capital in the 1967 Six Day War after 19 years of illegal Jordanian occupation.
Hamas representative in Lebanon, Ali Baraka, warned, “Any violation of our red lines will mean that the resistance will have a say,” but stopped short of promising a return of the rocket fire launched at Jerusalem from Gaza at the start of the Flag Parade two years ago.
Hamas urged Palestinian Authority Arabs and those living in Israel to “clash with the occupation,” but few took the bait.
The parade followed the traditional route departing from the center of the city along King George and Agron Streets before splitting into two, with men continuing through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter and women continuing through Jaffa Gate before meeting up again at the Western Wall.
More than 2,000 Israeli police officers were on hand to secure the event, with an additional thousand patrolling the city to ensure things remain calm.