Far-right Israeli extremists have cancelled a controversial march following the decision by security authorities not to allow them to pass through Muslim neighbourhoods within occupied East Jerusalem.
Known as the Flag March, the rally sees far-right Israeli ultra-nationalists flooding through Muslim areas celebrating the capture of East Jerusalem by Zionist occupation forces following a second wave of ethnic cleansing in 1967. Chanting "death to Arabs" and singing racist and highly offensive songs, thousands are seen parading through Muslim areas flying the Israeli flag.
Though scheduled for Jerusalem Day last month, the march had been diverted because of the escalation in tension triggered by Israel's attempt to forcibly displace families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holiest night of the month of Ramadan.
Earlier today, organisers of the parade, which includes a number of far-right ultra-nationalist groups, decided to cancel the event scheduled for Thursday, after being informed that they would not be permitted to travel through Muslim areas due to security concerns.
Police are said to have assessed that the march's route would need to be changed due to the risk of escalating tensions. According to Haaretz, the police held a meeting to assess the situation, in which intelligence showed that the consequences of the march could include renewed rocket fire on Israel and widespread riots in the Old City and on the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Following the organisers' statements that the event has been cancelled, police issued a clarification saying that they had made it clear they can't approve the march in its current route. "Should any alternative route or date be decided upon by the organizers, it will be examined," police said, stressing that the political leadership is involved in decisions regarding the march.
Haaretz reported that Hamas had hailed the decision as a "new defeat for Israel" that solidifies "the equation that Al-Quds [Jerualem] is a red line." Earlier today, senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Haya warned Israel and the international community against holding the march. If the procession comes near Al-Aqsa Mosque and East Jerusalem, he cautioned, 11 May – the date the Gaza flare-up began with rocket fire – could repeat itself.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Saturday said in a statement he will demand that the parade be called off if it "requires extraordinary security measures and endangers public order and diplomatic processes." Gantz released the statement following a meeting with the military and police chiefs, the attorney general, and other top security officials.
The statement was met with condemnation by the organisers. "We didn't wait for a Jewish, independent, sovereign state for 2,000 years only to have a cowardly defense minister publicly bow to Hamas's terror threats (and invites more threats and more terrorism) and seek to prevent Jews from marching with Israeli flags in Jerusalem, our holy city and the united capital," tweeted right-wing Member of the Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce the march will be held as planned.