Israel warns Hamas against attacks ahead of Jerusalem’s Flag Day march
Last year's march resulted in riots, clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians
Israel reportedly sent a message to Hamas through diplomatic channels in Egypt, warning the terror group against attacks during the annual Flag Day march in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The government warned Hamas that if there is any violation or attempt to disrupt the flag parade, Israel's response will be severe, according to Israel’s N12 news.
The annual Flag Day march, which has taken place every year since 1967, commemorates Jerusalem’s reunification during the Six-Day War and traditionally passes through portions of the Old City.
Israel’s warning to the Hamas terror group comes amid concerns that a violent confrontation between Palestinian groups and far right Israeli groups could prompt a larger conflict.
The march, which is set to take place on May 18, has sparked tensions between Israel and Hamas in the past.
On Sunday, Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said Hamas “will not allow the Zionist occupation to implement plans to Judaize the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the city of Jerusalem through division.”
“The flag parade in Jerusalem will not change the reality, we will maintain the ‘equation’ as imposed by the resistance,” Al-Qanou added.
In 2021, Hamas responded to the Flag Day march by launching a barrage of rockets from Gaza towards Jerusalem. The rocket attack, along with growing violence over the situation in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, led to an 11-day Israeli military campaign called Operation Guardian of the Walls.
After that operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had “changed the equation.”
Last year, there were riots and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces after then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett allowed the march to go through the Damascus Gate into the Muslim Quarter.
In recent years, far-right Israeli groups have used the march to incite and provoke Arabs in Jerusalem. Videos uploaded to social media last year showed several groups of national religious youth shouting, “Death to Arabs” or “Burn the town.”
According to N12, Netanyahu said this year’s march would not cross through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. In 2021, Netanyahu changed the route at the last minute, hoping to avoid confrontations. However, on Friday a government official said the current coalition government could not change the route without losing credibility.
On Monday, Channel 13 news published recordings of a meeting between Temple Mount activists and the Israel Police requesting the march route be changed to include a loop around the Temple Mount area. Police officials immediately denied the request.
With the recent strike on Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders in Gaza, Israel may also be sending a warning to Hamas that it is willing to engage in military action, if necessary.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.