Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kol haKavod, Jerusalem Police

Today, 40,000 people marched through Jerusalem in commemoration of the unification of the city in 1967. The march, which is highly nationalistic and often controversial, was particularly controversial this year. Due to ongoing construction of the Jerusalem light rail system, the parade was rerouted and began in the heavily Arab neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The neighborhood is the site of ongoing tension between its Arab residents and religious nationalist Jews attempting to gain a foothold in the area.

Given the explosive conditions of today's march, it is impressive that the Israeli police arrested only 24 people out of the 40,000 marchers and many thousands of Arab residents. Approximately six of those arrested were Arab. Additionally, only three people sustained injuries during the march, two of whom were throwing rocks at each other.

Today's successful and largely peaceful march demonstrates that the Israeli police were prepared for a very difficult and explosive situation. Clashes, particularly in Jerusalem, are likely to continue in the coming months. That the police are able to maintain order and use non-violent measures bodes well. Protesters will thrive off any missteps or excessive uses of force from the police. Hopefully, this careful IDF and police preparation now can prevent a response which exacerbates the likelihood of violence later.

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