The U.S. State Department is urging calm ahead of Israel’s planned Jerusalem Day Flag March this week.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel spoke on Tuesday in an effort to address security issues following recent acts of terror.
“We continue to urge the parties to refrain from actions and rhetoric and activities that would inflame tensions,” Vatel told reporters Tuesday.
Patel also responded after being asked by a reporter if the U.S. was asking Israel to stop its annual march.
“Of course we believe in the right of – for individuals to express themselves and to do so peacefully. And what I will reiterate is that we are urging all parties to maintain calm, to exercise restraint, and to refrain from actions and rhetoric and activities that would escalate tensions,” he stated.
The march extends throughout Jerusalem each year to celebrate the unification of Jerusalem following the Six-Day War. Past years have experienced unrest and violence, including two years ago when Operation Guardian of the Walls occurred on the same day as the march.
Discussion since that time has included potential changes in the route of the parade through Jerusalem. So far, the planned route remains unchanged.
Jerusalem Police District Commander Doron Turgeman said that his officers are prepared for threats.
“It is the obligation of the police to prepare for every security scenario, including firing rockets,” Turgeman said. “The threats are diverse, and the rocket threat is not central at this stage.”
Palestinian groups claim that the march breaches the area of the al-Aqsa Mosque. The march also comes shortly after a series of terrorist operations in recent days that included the IDF eliminating key leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The march comes as Jewish people in the U.S. celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month, with President Joe Biden making remarks to highlight the accomplishments of the Jewish people in a recent speech and urging peace in the midst of growing antisemitic incidents.