Ir Amim submitted an urgent petition this morning to the High Court of Justice requesting an injunction against the Police’s decision to expand the route of the annual Flag Parade. The new route, published just yesterday evening, enables marchers to encircle the Old City walls and enter via Dung Gate. This expansion of the route, in addition to the marchers’ entry via Damascus Gate, will effectively place the residents of the Muslim Quarter under siege, cutting them off from Salah al-Din Street, a major commercial artery of East Jerusalem, and will restrict the freedom of movement of Palestinian residents of the Silwan and Ras al-Amud neighborhoods.
Ir Amim has called this sudden change in the parade’s route a disproportionate and intolerable infringement of the freedom of movement and commerce of Palestinian residents and shopkeepers. A petition filed by Ir Amim in 2015 ensured that Palestinians would be able to move freely between the Muslim Quarter and Salah al-Din Street, without interference from Flag Parade marchers. By enabling an expansion of the parade’s route this year, the Police are permitting a severe disruption of the residents’ daily lives. Ir Amim has proposed an alternative route, in which marchers would be able to encircle the Old City from the west and enter through Dung Gate – without curtailing Palestinian freedom of movement.
The annual Flag Parade, which is a focal point of Jerusalem Day, founded to celebrate Israel’s 1967 “reunification” of the city, has been marked in past years by acts of violence and incitement, racist chants and vandalizing of property. As previously documented, the Police have been ineffectual in stopping these displays of violence and incitement. This year’s expansion of the parade will make it all the more difficult for the Police to do their job and enforce law and order.