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Tension soars as Israelis march through east Jerusalem, Gaza bombing intensifies and rockets land from Lebanon
Posted by Temmy
Thu, June 06, 2024 4:28pm

Tension soars as Israelis march through east Jerusalem, Gaza bombing intensifies and rockets land from Lebanon
Israelis wave national flags during a march marking Jerusalem Day, an Israeli holiday celebrating the capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, in front of the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City, on June 5, 2024. OHAD ZWIGENBERG/AP

Thousands of Israeli nationalists marched Wednesday through east Jerusalem as authorities deployed police with tensions sky-high nearly eight months into the Gaza war. That war appeared to be intensifying in Gaza and the far-right nationalists staged their annual march – long deemed a provocation by Palestinians – in Jerusalem.

The so-called Jerusalem Day flag march commemorates the Israeli army's capture in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war of the city's eastern sector, which is home to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site. Jews call it the Temple Mount.

Thousands of Jewish nationalists, including far-right activists, marched through predominantly Arab neighborhoods of the Old City, waving Israeli national flags, dancing and occasionally shouting inflammatory or racist slogans.

"This is my country. I am the owner here. I'm the boss here, there is no Palestine," screamed a participant as he marched past a group of journalists.

From early on Wednesday, police set up barriers near Damascus Gate after announcing plans to deploy more than 3,000 officers during the day. Most shops in the Old City were closed before the march started as streets slowly emptied of Palestinians and filled with young Israelis, some of whom carried weapons.

Young people waving large Israeli flags and chanting "The people of Israel live" were seen near Jaffa Gate, and some wore T-shirts reading "My land, I do not want to divide it."

Some far-right marchers scuffled with a journalist in the sector's Muslim Quarter, according to an AFP correspondent. Many threw empty water bottles at reporters covering the event at Damascus Gate, with some of them taken away by police.

For many Palestinians, the route through predominantly Arab neighborhoods is seen as a deliberate provocation. The Palestinians claim the city's eastern sector as the capital of their hoped-for future state.

A man who gave his name as Ibrahim said: "The shops must not close their doors, and they must not allow the settlers to take over the city. All Arabs must be in Jerusalem today."

Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said at the march: "We send a message to Hamas. Jerusalem is ours. Damascus gate is ours. The Temple Mount is ours."

"With the help of God, the full victory is ours," he said, referring to Israel's ongoing war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as crowds of people cheered.

Hamas warned Israel in a statement on Wednesday "against the consequences of continuing these criminal policies against our sanctities, at the heart of which is the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque," and the group called on Palestinians "to make today, Wednesday, a day of anger."

This year's march came nearly eight months after Hamas launched its Oct. 7 terrorist attack, which killed about 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials, and sparked the war in Gaza.

That retaliatory offensive in the densely packed Palestinian enclave has killed at least 36,550 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

There have been signs this week that, along with increasing clashes along Israel's northern border with the Lebanese group Hezbollah – a Hamas ally that is, like the Gaza-based group, backed by Iran – the offensive in the Gaza Strip is intensifying.

Israeli officials said 11 people were wounded, including one left in critical condition, when rockets from southern Lebanon hit the northern village of Hurfeish.

Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu, visiting the region earlier in the day, warned that his government was prepared to take "very strong action" against Hezbollah.

The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday, meanwhile, that it had taken "operational control" over two areas in central Gaza as it continues carrying out ground operations and airstrikes across the territory.

The army said it was fighting "above and below ground" in the east of the town of Deir al-Balah, and in the Bureij refugee camp.

CBS News visited the Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah early Wednesday and medics there said it had received 74 bodies over the preceding 24 hours.

CBS News' Marwan al-Ghoul said the bombing at the Bureij camp and elsewhere in central Gaza had been non-stop, sending refugees fleeing for safety.

Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, June 5, 2024
Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, June 5, 2024. TSAFRIR ABAYOV/AP



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