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Israel Police Blocks Far-right March at Damascus Gate

The Media Line’s Adi Koplewitz reports from Damascus Gate on Wednesday afternoon that the Israel Police has blocked an ultranationalist flag march from entering Jerusalem’s Old City through that gate, which leads directly into the Muslim Quarter. 

Last year, Hamas responded to a similar march by firing rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, sparking 11 days of fighting between Israel and armed Palestinian groups in the Strip, as well as riots in several mixed Jewish-Arab cities in Israel.

The police, in consultation with the Shin Bet security agency, refused to grant a permit for the flag march this year. Organizers of the march claimed that they were blocked from receiving a permit by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev for political rather than security reasons.

Bennett said that far-right Knesset Member Itamar Ben-Gvir, despite enjoying parliamentary immunity, was personally barred from entering the Old City through Damascus Gate on the recommendation of the Shin Bet, which said his presence could spark violence in the current atmosphere.

“I have no intention of allowing small politics to endanger human lives. I will not allow Ben-Gvir’s political provocation to endanger IDF soldiers and Israeli police officers, and to burden their already heavy load,” Bennett said. “Our police and soldiers will continue to focus on maintaining the security of Israeli citizens, in Jerusalem and throughout the country, and to fight Palestinian terror with determination.”