After Israel’s 70th, police anticipate massive J‘lem Day celebrations

The police presence will be larger than usual at this year’s Jerusalem Day celebrations, in which tens of thousands of people are expected to take part, Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Hundreds of additional security personnel will be securing the annual march through the Old City, which is expected to be bigger than usual on the heels of Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

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Participants traditionally march through Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate, before streaming through the Old City and ending at the Western Wall. A separate event will be held at Ammunition Hill, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver a speech.

Police units will be stationed in all the relevant areas ahead of time to ensure all areas are open and accessible. The Border Police will secure the Old City, and officers on foot and on horseback will patrol the area around Damascus Gate, where in previous years there have been security incidents and terrorist attacks.

“We don’t have any information or indication as of now of any incidents that should occur,” Rosenfeld said. “But in the past, police have dealt with disturbances before, during and after the event that police units had to respond to.”

Tensions are known to run high on this day, which commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem after Israel captured the Old City in 1967.

Over the years, Jerusalem Day has been somewhat marred by outbreaks of scuffles and confrontations between Jews and Arabs. There also have been instances of stone-throwing by Arab residents of the city, as well as incidents of racism and hostility perpetrated by Jewish marchers against Arabs.

In the morning, ahead of the march, many Jews visit the Temple Mount, which is also a source of friction between Arabs and Jews.

“We’ll be protecting all those taking part in the celebrations, and at same time, police will respond to anyone who is involved in disturbing public peace,” Rosenfeld said. “The celebrations are sensitive, and all necessary security measures and steps are being implemented to prevent any major incidents.”

Police will be on especially high alert next week, with the US Embassy move to Jerusalem scheduled for Monday and the Palestinian Nakba Day the day after that. The Palestinians have announced the day of the US Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a “day of rage.”

During past “days of rage,” groups of Palestinians have marched toward Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank and clashed with Israeli forces there.

Nakba Bay is supposed to mark the end of the “Great March of Return,” which since Land Day has involved weekly Friday protests along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, with dozens of Palestinians attempting to breach the fence. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the IDF has killed 47 Palestinians in the protests, and more than 7,000 have been wounded.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.