Last year, on the day scheduled for this march according to the Hebrew calendar and after days of Israeli-Palestinian violence in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian movement Hamas launched salvoes of rockets into Israel, a prelude to an 11-day war. between the two camps.
For this Sunday, the police were placed on alert and indicated that they had mobilized 3,000 officers for the march of “Yom Yerushalaim” or “Jerusalem Day” which is to begin at 4:00 p.m. local time (1:00 p.m. GMT).
The parade marks for Israel the “reunification” of the Holy City after the occupation in 1967 of its Palestinian part. Its historic route passes through the Old City located in occupied East Jerusalem, without making a detour via the esplanade of the Mosques, at the heart of Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
Palestinian groups threatened to “respond” in the event of violence during the march, or even if participants went to the esplanade of the Mosques, the third holiest site in Islam but also the holiest site in Judaism under the name of “Temple Mount”.
“We will not hesitate to use all possible means to stop a (possible) incursion into our sacred sites. Israel will pay a high price,” Ghazi Hamad, a member of the political bureau of the political office, told AFP on Saturday. Hamas, the Islamist movement in power in Gaza which says it is fighting a “Judaization” of this site.
– Calculated test? –
Despite the pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assured that the march “will take place according to the planned route, as has been the case for decades”, that is to say passing through the Old City but without detour via the esplanade.
The march is a “personal test, even a personality test” for Mr. Bennett, to mark his difference from his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, in power last year during the march and the war, notes the major daily Yediot. Aharonot.
“Netanyahu had stammered, hesitated, made a decision (to allow the march), only to back out (on the route) because of Hamas’ threats and we still had a barrage of rockets… Bennett said. opted for an opposite strategy, with a calm and calculated policy (…)”, continues the Yediot.
What is this calculation? “That Hamas has no interest in embarking on a new war (…) because it focuses on the reconstruction of Gaza,” said Shlomo Mofaz, security analyst and former high-ranking Israeli military intelligence.
In recent months, Israel has granted thousands of work permits on its territory to Palestinians from Gaza, whose salaries are used to breathe new life into this enclave undermined by endemic unemployment.
“Undermining security stability would threaten its efforts and (economic) progress,” Israeli commander Ghassan Alian said in reference to Hamas on Saturday evening.
– “Avoid climbing”! –
If Hamas has no economic interest in an escalation, violence in Jerusalem with Palestinian injuries or deaths could push it, or other Palestinian armed groups such as Islamic Jihad, to go on the offensive, notes Mr. Mofaz.
Another element at stake: Iran, Israel’s number one enemy and supporter of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
According to the New York Times, Israel has indicated to Washington that it is responsible for the death of Sayyad Khodaï, a senior officer of the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who was shot dead on May 22 near Tehran. .
“Perhaps they (the Iranians) will encourage (Hamas or Islamic Jihad) to break the routine” and launch rockets at Israel, notes Mr. Mofaz.
The UN’s chief mediator for the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, called on Israelis and Palestinians “to show maximum restraint” in order “to avoid a new conflict which will only lead to more deaths”.
“The message from the international community is clear: avoid further escalation.”