Thousands of Israelis marched through the alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday in a controversial parade through the Muslim Quarter that marks Israel’s capture of the ancient walled metropolis in the 1967 war against Arab armies.
The Jerusalem Flag Parade can be a tense episode because revelers, many of them high school students from nationalist religious schools accompanied by their rabbis, wind their way through the Arab section of the city, celebrating the Jews’ return to the holy city — but also shouting abuse at the few Palestinians out on the streets.
On Sunday, Israeli police vowed there would be zero tolerance for the racist chants that marked past parades. Although the march featured some pushing and shoving, there were few arrests and no serious violence and few arrests.
Arab shopkeepers were ordered to close their stores along the route, but a few remained open.
“I am not afraid. This is my shop. This is my Jerusalem. I am not closing,” said Ahmed Dandes, a tailor who sells men’s trousers at the Damascus Gate.
An hour later, Dandes had shuttered his shop and was headed home.
Israeli police were especially anxious about the march because it took place on the eve of Ramadan, Islam’s month-long celebration of daytime fasting and nighttime feasts. It begins Monday at sunset.
Israeli media reported scattered chants against the Muslims — shouts of “Muhammad is dead!” and “Burn down the mosque!”
At one Palestinian sweets shop, youths surged forward, singing, “The people of Israel live!” while giving the Arab bakers their middle fingers.
Police swept in and pushed them away.
At another store selling lanterns to celebrate Ramadan, a Jewish parade warden not much older than the high-school marchers yelled at them to leave the Arab ­shopkeeper alone.
At the Damascus Gate, Rabbi Andrew Sacks was with fellow activists, handing out red roses to Palestinians. “This flag parade is an excuse for needless racism and provocation, and we are opposed to this,” he said.