Hamas, which governs blockaded enclave of Gaza, calls on Palestinians to resist the controversial parade by Israeli ultra-nationalists through areas around occupied Jerusalem's Old City.

Israeli ultra-nationalists wave national flags during so-called
Israeli ultra-nationalists wave national flags during so-called "Jerusalem Day" parade, in occupied Jerusalem on May 10, 2021. (AP)

Israel's new government has approved a contentious parade by Israeli ultra-nationalists through Palestinian areas around occupied Jerusalem's Old City, setting the stage for possible renewed confrontations just weeks after an 11-day war with Palestinians in the Gaza. 

Hamas, which governs the blockaded enclave, has called on Palestinians to resist the controversial march.

Omer Bar-Lev, the new Cabinet minister who oversees police, said on Monday that he met with police, military and top security officials to review the plan.

"I got the impression that the police are well-prepared and a great effort is being made to preserve the delicate fabric of life and public security," Bar-Lev said.

His statement gave no details on the parade route. But Israeli media said the crowd would walk past the Damascus Gate on Tuesday but not enter the Muslim Quarter.

READ MORE: Israel to allow right-wing rally in occupied Jerusalem's Old City

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media, said about 2,000 police would be deployed.

Tuesday's parade creates an early test for the fledgling government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — a patchwork of parties that includes hard-line nationalists as well as the first Arab party to sit in a governing coalition.

Every year, Israeli ultra-nationalists hold the boisterous march, waving blue-and-white flags and chanting slogans as they march through the Old City's Damascus Gate and into the heart of the Muslim Quarter to celebrate Israel's capture and illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. 

The Palestinians consider the march a provocation.

READ MORE: Israeli police attack Palestinians at Al Aqsa hours after Gaza ceasefire

War in Gaza

The parade was originally scheduled for May 10. 

At the time, tensions already were high following weeks of violence of Israeli police on Palestinian demonstrators around the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites, as well as attempts by illegal Jewish settlers to expel dozens of Palestinians from their homes in a nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

As thousands of Jewish ultra-nationalists began the procession, police ordered a change in the route to avoid the Damascus Gate. Days of violence on Palestinians forced Hamas in Gaza to fire a barrage of rockets toward Jerusalem. Israel began strikes on the small enclave killing nearly 250 Palestinians. Some13 people in Israel were also killed.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said UN officials have made clear "the need for all sides to refrain from unilateral steps and provocations, for them to exercise restraint and allow for the necessary work to be done to solidify the current ceasefire."

READ MORE: Gaza’s reconstruction critical for maintaining ceasefire: Hamas

Hamas urges Palestinians to resist 

Hamas issued a statement calling on Palestinians to show "valiant resistance" to the controversial march. It urged people to gather in the streets of the Old City and at the Al Aqsa Mosque to "rise up in the face of the occupier and resist it by all means to stop its crimes and arrogance."

Israeli Channel 13 TV said the military was on heightened alert in the occupied West Bank and along the Gaza front to prepare for possible violence.

The military said it was "conducting ongoing situational assessments and is prepared for a variety of developments and scenarios." It said, however, there were no reinforcements of troops.

Israeli lawmakers on Sunday narrowly approved Bennett's new governing coalition, unseating Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in power.

READ MORE: How the Israeli media amplifies anti-Palestinian racism

Source: AP