The Palestinian Authority prime minister has condemned the Israeli flag march that is held annually in occupied East Jerusalem as an “absurd and provocative” attempt to impose “false facts” on the ground.
In a statement on Thursday, Mohammed Shtayyeh said the flag parade, in which tens of thousands of Israeli settlers march through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, does not give the Israeli occupation any legitimacy through its “absurd policies and repressive practices”.
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“It cannot change the features of the Holy City with its Palestinian Jerusalemite residents, its Islamic and Christian sanctities, and its landmarks that reject the occupiers who come to it,” he said.
The provocative march is meant to celebrate the occupation and subsequent annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967 – a move that has not been recognised by the international community.
It is also known for its anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian slogans, where ultranationalist Israelis regularly chant “Death to Arabs” and “May your village burn” – a reference to the Nakba, or the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 that led to Israel’s establishment.
Shtayyeh stressed that the Palestinian people are able to thwart all attempts of Judaisation – referring to Israel’s practice of transforming the physical and demographic landscape of Jerusalem to enhance its Jewish character while simultaneously erasing Palestinians.
“The Palestinians will continue to confront the policies of the occupation, no matter how heavy the price,” he added.
Provocative tours of Al-Aqsa compound
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities have tightened their military measures in Jerusalem and prevented Palestinian worshippers under the age of 50 from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform dawn prayers.
At the same time, the authorities allowed hundreds of Jewish settlers, including far-right government and members of the Israeli Knesset, to storm the site since morning.
The Islamic Waqf Council, a religious body appointed by Jordan to oversee the Al-Aqsa compound, reported that the settlers carried out provocative tours of its compound, and performed Talmudic rituals in front of the Dome of the Rock mosque before leaving from the Bab al-Silsila, or Chain Gate.
Meanwhile, Palestinian youth across Israel and the occupied territories of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip have called for a campaign to raise the Palestinian flag in the main squares of various towns and cities to coincide with the Israeli flag parade.
Abd al-Latif al-Qanou, a spokesman for Hamas, told Al Jazeera that “the battle of the Palestinian people with the Zionist occupation over the identity of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is still open and ongoing”.
“We will not allow the Israeli occupation to pass a plan to extend its sovereignty or impose its control over Al-Aqsa Mosque, through facilitating the march of the settler flags or the repeated incursions into it,” he said.