What is Jerusalem Day to the Palestinians?
Jerusalem Day is a national celebration for the state of Israel, honored in particular by the country's far right for whom it marks the "reunification" of Jerusalem. To Palestinians, the day marks the occupation of the entire eastern half of the city in 1967, reflected in present day by the demonstrations staged on the date by Israeli extremists, who flock to East Jerusalem in their thousands.
The day is one of danger for Palestinian residents. In the past many have been physically attacked and had property damaged or destroyed by right-wing marchers, who enjoy the support and protection of Israeli state security forces. The marches immobilise the entire eastern city as the streets are overtaken by marchers chanting racist slogans and given free reign to cause havoc in the Palestinian neighborhoods. Many are seen to engage in binge-drinking during the marches, upping the aggression they inflict on residents.
On Jerusalem Day in Silwan, Israeli forces seal off village's the entrances and prevent Palestinian residents from entering or exiting, while settlers enjoy freedom of movement. Many Palestinians are openly harassed before police eyes, but are often targeted for arrest themselves should they respond to the harassment. Jerusalem Day represents a day of fabricated history to Palestinians: a day on which the myth of a "unified" exclusively Jewish Jerusalem was built. The day marks the desecration of mosques and churches; the expulsion of inhabitants and the establishment of settlements. To Palestinians, Jerusalem Day symbolises the inherent racism of the settlement mafia and the uncondition support of the Israeli state it enjoys.