UN, U.S. condemn 'inciteful, racist' chants at Jerusalem Day march
Opponents of Jerusalem Day see it as a nationalistic provocation, while supporters consider it an expression of Israel’s sovereignty over a united Jerusalem
The United States and United Nations on Friday condemned anti-Arab slogans chanted during an annual march in Jerusalem, which drew tens of thousands of Israeli nationalists the day prior.
Marking 56 years since the unification of the holy city, this year’s Jerusalem Day saw observers march through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, which opponents saw as a provocation while supporters considered it an expression of Israel’s sovereignty over a united Jerusalem.
The heavily-policed, flag-waving procession saw some groups of Jewish youths confronting and assaulting Palestinians, chanting "Death to Arabs" and waving racist banners. Before the march began, many Palestinian shopkeepers shuttered their businesses along the route, fearing abuse.
"The United States unequivocally opposes racist language of any form. We condemn the hateful chants such as 'Death to Arabs'," U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller tweeted.
Palestinian and foreign journalists said marchers hurled sticks, stones, and bottles at them, wounding some. Israelis were also wounded by Palestinians who hurled stones at them.
U.N. Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said he was disturbed by the "inciteful and racist chants" and deplored attacks on journalists.
On Friday, videos on social media showed scuffles and stone-throwing between Palestinians and Jewish youths as confrontations briefly flared again in the Old City's narrow alleyways. Israel's ambulance service said it treated two people for mild injuries, while police said they used riot dispersal means and that one officer was wounded.
In recent years, Jerusalem Day festivities have become a show of force for Jewish nationalists. Palestinians say the event is a provocation meant to undermine their ties to the city. In 2021, it sparked an 11-day war with Gaza’s ruling terror group Hamas.