JERUSALEM (JTA) — A controversial annual Jerusalem Day march that passes through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter will not be rerouted, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled.
The court issued its decision on Sunday morning, hours before the scheduled start of the march. The ruling came in response to a petition filed late last week by Ir Amim, a left-wing organization that monitors the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jerusalem. The organization called on the court to cancel the march, citing the possible start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Sunday evening, which would bring thousands of Muslims to the Old City as well.
Ramadan is set to begin on either Sunday evening or Monday evening, after a determination after sundown on Sunday whether the crescent moon has officially appeared.
March organizers agreed Sunday to begin the march at least 15 minutes early, following an agreement last week to start an hour earlier. According to the court ruling, the last marcher will be allowed to enter the Old City via the Damascus gate at 6:15 and all marchers will be out of the Muslim Quarter by 7 p.m. The start of Ramadan will not be declared until at least 7:43.
In previous years some Jewish marchers have shouted racist and nationalist slogans at Muslim onlookers, and have committed acts of vandalism in the Muslim areas.
Police this year have threatened to crack down on marchers and have “zero tolerance” for violence and racism.
Palestinian leaders denounced the march as a “racist” provocation that would lead to violence and set back the cause of peace.
Over 30,000 marchers are expected to take part in the “flag dance” parade, which begins at Sacher Park in the center of Jerusalem and ends at the Western Wall, according to Israel Police. Thousands took part in morning prayer services Sunday at the Western Wall, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Thousands of people pray at western wall, part of celebrations taking part in Jerusalem today. Police securing area. pic.twitter.com/J2AwREbrGC— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) June 5, 2016