Photos: Ultranationalist Israelis march in Palestinian area of Jerusalem | Israel-Palestine conflict News

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Thousands of mostly ultranationalist Israelis have taken part in an annual march through a Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem’s Old City, with some marchers chanting “Death to Arabs.”

Jerusalem has been mostly calm throughout Israel’s war on Gaza, but the march could ignite widespread tensions, as it did three years ago, when it helped set off an 11-day war in Gaza.

Marchers gathered outside the Damascus Gate, typically a central gathering place for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, and chanted anti-Arab and anti-Islamic slogans, danced and waved Israeli flags as the procession kicked off.

Just before the march began, crowds scuffled with police and threw plastic bottles at a journalist wearing a vest with the word PRESS emblazoned on it. Some chanted “Muhammad is dead!” referring to the Islamic prophet.

The march was taking place as tensions over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza were high.

The annual march commemorates “Jerusalem Day”, which marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital, but its annexation of East Jerusalem is not internationally recognised. The Palestinians, who seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, see the march as a provocation.

In previous years, police have forcibly cleared Palestinians from the parade route, and large crowds of mostly ultranationalist youths have chanted “Death to Arabs,” “May your village burn” and other offensive slogans. The police said they were deploying 3,000 security personnel to ensure calm.

At the insistence of Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees the police, the march will follow its traditional route, entering the Muslim Quarter of the Old City through Damascus Gate and ending at the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray.

As buses bringing young Jewish men in for the march thronged around the Old City’s centuries-old walls, Palestinian shopkeepers closed down in the Muslim Quarter in preparation.

The police stressed that the march would not enter the sprawling Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam.

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