Every year, Jewish Israelis — mostly right-wing advocates of the settler movement — parade through Jerusalem’s Old City to celebrate the annexation of East Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967.
Every year, Palestinians from East Jerusalem come to protest the Jerusalem Day parade, which they consider a salute to their continuing occupation and dispossession from their land.
From 1949 to 1967, Jerusalem was divided between Israeli and Jordanian ownership along the ceasefire line of the first Arab-Israeli War, popularly known as the Green Line.
After the 1967 war, Israel took control of East Jerusalem and annexed it into their authority, leaving Palestinians in the city as permanent residents of Israel without citizenship.
Since then, 190,000 Jewish settlers have set up residence in East Jerusalem, aided by security protection and monetary support from the Israeli government. At the same time, Palestinian residents face land shortages, disproportionate house demolitions, and denials of construction permits by the Israeli authorities that make it increasingly difficult to survive financially in the city.
About 75 percent of the inhabitants of East Jerusalem live below the poverty line.
Many Palestinians see Jerusalem Day as a celebration not only of the annexation of East Jerusalem but of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, both of which also trace back to the aftermath of the 1967 war.
Israelis, especially the conservative and religious Jews who typically observe the holiday, view the day as a commemoration of expanding Jewish sovereignty in the region over the past century.
Jerusalem Day 2014 was marked by tens of thousands of Jewish revelers marching through the Old City, where the streets were closed to Palestinian residents. Skirmishes broke out around Damascus Gate where the parade entered the Old City, and nine Palestinians were arrested.
Yishai Fleisher lives in a settlement near the Mount of Olives in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. He works as a radio host, columnist for the Jerusalem Post, and founded a Zionist organization to promote Jewish Americans to make Aliyah — immigration to Israel.
"I'm a narrative warrior. I'm a combatant in what people are thinking," he says about himself.
He sees the complete annexation of Palestine, both the West Bank and Gaza, as the final step of the settler movement.
"The endgame of the settler [movement] is normalization, instead of settlers, call us normalizers," Fleisher said.
“The whole point behind this celebration...is just rubbing it in [our] face – like we did it, we took it, we took Jerusalem,” said Anwar Mune, a Palestinian resident of the Old City, in Jerusalem. “It’s a message to the whole world that whether you like it or not, we did it, we have it, we’re gonna have it, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Mune runs his family’s gem and jewelry store.
Israeli Border Police, known as Magav, set up barricades around East Jerusalem in areas neighboring Damascus gate to restrict Palestinian access into the Old City. The authorities were looking to prevent Palestinians from demonstrating against Jerusalem Day celebrations.
Checkpoints were set up within the Old City as well, to further tighten control over Palestinian movement throughout the day.
By the afternoon Jewish Israelis were marching through the Palestinian sections of the Old City, singing and waving flags in celebration of Jerusalem Day.
At least nine Palestinians were arrested throughout the day in ensuing clashes with the police.
A Magav officer pulls a Palestinian boy by the arm in Damascus Gate, just outside of the Old City. Israeli authorities eventually cleared the area of almost all Palestinians so that Jewish Israelis could continue their celebrations without disruption.
Magav officers roughly eject a demonstrating Palestinian woman from Damascus Gate square.
Police forcibly removed all Jerusalem Day protesters before they could muster sizable numbers.
Heavily armed Magav officers watch over Damascus Gate after it had been cleared of most Palestinians.
Jewish yeshiva students, waving the flag of a religious-nationalist Zionist school located in the Golan Heights, march into Damascus Gate as part of Jerusalem Day celebrations.
Jewish Israelis gather Damascus Gate square after it was cleared of Palestinian demonstrators to celebrate Jerusalem Day. Most Palestinians were kept out of the area until hours after sunset.
The yeshiva students waved flags, danced in circles and sung songs in Damascus Gate square for hours.
Israeli riot police prepare to fire stun grenades at demonstrators, in East Jerusalem, near Damascus Gate.
Throughout the day, there were running clashes between Palestinian youths and the police leading to many injuries and arrests among the demonstrators.
An injured demonstrator is carried to safety by a Palestinian paramedic, just outside the Old City’s walls in East Jerusalem.
All photos by Daniel Tepper