Tensions rise on streets of Jerusalem

Thursday, June 02, 2011 |  Ryan Jones  

As they have every year for the past 44 years, Israeli Jews on Wednesday marched through the streets of central Jerusalem waving Israeli flags and celebrating the reunification of their ancient capital.

The path of the annual parade takes marchers through or near to several Arab-dominated neighborhoods, as it closely follows the partition line that divided Jerusalem from 1948-1967.

But most years the parade is a peaceful exercise, and the celebrating Jews and local Arabs rarely clash in any significant way.

This year was different.

With the international community increasingly backing Arab demands regarding future control of Jerusalem, tensions were high on Wednesday as the estimated 40,000 Israelis made their way toward and through Jerusalem's Old City.

Those local Arabs who support eastern Jerusalem becoming the capital of a Palestinian state (and not all of them do) saw the Israeli march as a statement that the Jewish state has no intention of meeting Arab demands.

At least one local Arab described the march as a "provocation," ignoring the fact that Jews have been praying for 2,000 years for their return to Jerusalem.

While violence was kept to a minimum thanks to a large police force, there were three injuries as groups of Israeli Jews and Arabs clashed. At least 24 people were arrested.

In some areas, Arab counter-demonstrators were joined by leftist Israeli Jews who support surrendering Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority.

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