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‘Flag march’ grave provocation against Palestinians, Muslim nations: Hamas

An Israeli man uses pepper spray as security forces attack Palestinian protesters, while Israel marks the so-called Jerusalem Day in the Old City of occupied al-Quds, on May 29, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has warned that the so-called flag march in occupied East al-Quds is a grave provocation against the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations, stating that the resistance “will not hesitate to perform its duty” of defending Palestinian sanctities and people.

The warning came on Sunday before Israeli settlers held their annual "flag march." The march was held later the same day despite prior warnings by Palestinians resistance groups and officials of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority who saw the parade as provocative and a cause for further escalation across the occupied territories. 

Speaking in a statement ahead of the march, Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for Hamas, said the flag march could set off “unexpected explosions,” warning Israel not to cross the red lines or resistance will not remain silent.

The flag march marks Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967. The annual march is organized by far-right Israeli settlers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East al-Quds.

The march, staged through al-Quds flashpoints, is an attempt by extremists to slam what they call the Tel Aviv regime’s failure to deal with the Palestinians and affirm their presence in the occupied Palestinian city and its holy sites.

It was originally planned to be held on May 10, but was later rescheduled to be held on Sunday.

Qassem also said that Hamas is pursuing all the developments surrounding the situation and is firmly determined to defend Palestinian “sanctities and people” unwaveringly.

“We are following up on all the details and developments of the situation in [al-Quds] and the resistance will certainly have its decisive position to defend our sanctities and our people, and it will not hesitate to perform this duty,” the spokesman said.

Qassem added that Palestinians are ready to defend al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque and make sacrifices to preserve the Palestinian and Arab-Islamic identity of the mosque and al-Quds, warning that the response will come from every corner.

The movement’s leadership notified all parties that what is happening in al-Quds is a real provocation against the feelings of the Palestinian people and is intolerable, he said, adding that Palestinians “will do everything they can to protect al-Aqsa Mosque and the Islamic and Christian holy sites in [al-Quds].”

He urged Palestinians in the West Bank to mobilize and raise their flags in al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque to stand up to the settlers’ incursion into the holy site.

Rallies were also held in other parts of the world, including in some European capitals, in solidarity with Palestinian people in their confrontation with the Israeli occupation.

In the German capital, Berlin, dozens of cars took part in a pro-Palestine rally. The vehicles were draped in the Palestinian flags as the drivers honked their horns. 

Similar solidarity rallies were also held in Jordan, the UK, Austria, South Africa and Lebanon.

Israeli settlers attack, injure several Palestinians in al-Quds

According to the Palestinian Information Center and Wafa news agency, during Sunday rally at the Bab al-Amud entrance to the occupied East al-Quds, Israel settlers taking part in the so-called flag march, attacked Palestinians protesting at the extremist rally, injuring a number of them.

Palestinian sources reported that several Palestinians were injured after being attacked by the Israeli security forces and settlers. Two Palestinian girls were also brutalized by Israeli security forces in the Old City of al-Quds.

Other Palestinian citizens were also attacked by Israeli security forces in different areas of the Old City, especially in Bab al-Amud, and a number of them were also arrested.

Israeli forces also attacked Palestinian protesters in the town of Bazzariya to the northwest of Nablus as well as in the village of Taqou to the east of Bethlehem. Israel's forces fired tear gas canisters to disperse protesters, causing many protesters to suffocate.

Two Palestinians were also shot and injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and one by shrapnel during attacks by Israeli forces in the towns of Burin and Huwwara to the south of Nablus.

Several other Palestinians sustained burn injuries, while at least seven others suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.

Israeli forces also attacked Palestinians who rallied to the east of Tulkarm city, firing rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters against them. Dozens reportedly suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.

According to the latest figures by Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 40 people have been injured in attacks by Israeli forces and settlers on Palestinian protesters in the occupied al-Quds.

‘Battle with occupation will only end with liberation’

Fawzi Barhoum, another Hamas spokesman, also said that Palestinians’ sacred battle against Israel will not be over unless they liberate their lands.

“Our battle for [al-Quds] and al-Aqsa is sacred, and open against the (Israeli) occupation and will not stop unless the goals of our people are achieved in liberation, return, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with [al-Quds] as its capital.”

Barhoum hailed Palestinian youths who have displayed solid steadfastness and heroism inside the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque and in occupied al-Quds. 

He added that the resistance and the people are prepared to “pay the price” to “purify the blessed Mosque” from the “impurity of the occupation.”

“Unswerving positions of the Palestinian resistance, its messages to the occupation, and the great sacrifices of our people in [al-Quds], which are embodied in the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque and at its gates, reflect the readiness of our people and the resistance to defend the blessed mosque and to pay the price of purifying it from the impurity of the occupation,” the spokesman said.

Recently, there has been a sheer escalation of atrocities by the Israeli regime against Palestinian worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Palestinian resistance groups, who are outraged by the Israeli barbarity, have intensified their operations throughout the occupied territories.

In a statement on Thursday, Hamas called on all Palestinians “to thwart the occupation’s plans” by heading to al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied holy city at dawn on Sunday.

The escalations in al-Quds had sparked fears of another armed conflict similar to an 11-day war in May last year between Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas.

Hamas has also warned Israel it risks another war if it allows the right-wing groups and extremist settlers to march through the occupied Old City of East al-Quds.

Jordan condemns Israeli ‘flag march’, storming of al-Aqsa

In a related development on Sunday, Jordan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned the storming of al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli settlers and a Knesset member.

The ministry added that allowing the so-called flag march to go ahead on schedule today will lead to further escalation in the occupied al-Quds, Jordan’s Petra news agency reported.

“The Israeli raids, protected by the Israeli security forces, are a violation of the historical and legal status quo and the international law,” Jordan Foreign Ministry's spokesperson, Haitham Abu Alfoul.

He stressed that al-Aqsa Mosque is purely a place of worship for Muslims and that the Jordanian-run Waqf (Endowments) and al-Aqsa Affairs Administration in al-Quds has the exclusive jurisdiction to run all the affairs of the holy site.

The spokesperson called on Israel, as the occupying power, to stop practices and violations against the al-Aqsa Mosque, respect its sanctity, and halt all measures aimed at altering the historical and legal status quo of the mosque.

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