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Thousands of Israelis waved flags and marched in a Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem, asserting Israeli control over the city and testing the feeble ceasefire in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The march had been delayed from last month out of concern it would escalate the violence in the city just as fighting was breaking out between Israel and Palestinian groups on May 10th.
Hamas vowed a response to the recent escalation, and returned to its usual military practice: launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that 20 fires were sparked by these attacks over the past 24 hours, and in response scrambled warplanes to carry out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
The IDF said that it had targeted Hamas military compounds, used by the group’s operatives.
The Israeli strikes in Gaza appeared to cause no deaths or injuries.
But the Israeli military warned that it was “prepared for any scenario, including a resumption of hostilities, in the face of continuing terror activities from the Gaza Strip.”
Israel also deployed Iron Dome to the country’s south to guarantee security.
Tel Aviv’s government needed to show that it had security under control, especially since it hosted a full delegation of former US generals who met with various IDF officials.
Earlier on June 15th, in Jerusalem, mostly young Israelis marched to the main entrance to the Old City’s Muslim quarter.
Many of them chanted “Death to Arabs”.
There, a few thousand dancing demonstrators had gathered to celebrate Israel’s contested control of East Jerusalem.
Scores of stone-throwing Palestinians took part in running street battles with Israeli security forces, who used rubber bullets, batons and water cannons spraying foul-smelling water to scatter those trying to disrupt the nationalist celebration outside the Old City walls.
At least 33 people were injured, including a 14-year-old boy hit by a rubber bullet, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
Israeli police said that two officers were lightly wounded and 17 people were arrested during the protests.
Hamas leaders had urged Palestinians to take part in a “day of rage” to challenge the protest outside the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, and the militant group then launched incendiary balloons.
The march’s organizers are former allies turned political enemies of new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has drawn ire from Israel’s right-wing population for forming a coalition that also includes the left-wing and an Arab party.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that him being removed from his post was just temporary and he would be back in a short time-span, as Israel is essentially lost without him.
Any sort of escalation in the West Bank is in his favor, as he may claim that his competition is not effectively dealing with the situation.