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Police on alert as Israel marks Jerusalem Day

02 june 2011, 10:31
More than 3,000 police were deployed in and around the Holy City on Wednesday as Israelis marked Jerusalem Day to remember when they seized its Arab eastern sector 44 years ago, during the Six Day War, AFP reports.

"We have deployed extra police, border guards and civil guard volunteers, particularly in the eastern part of the city and in and around the Old City to maintain public order during the ceremonies," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

The celebrations, which began at sundown on Tuesday and continued through the night, include parties, parades and ceremonies to mark the "unification" of the city following the capture of Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 war.

Security was tight throughout Jerusalem ahead of an annual march to the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites, which is located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

The march normally heads down Jaffa Street, the main road that cuts through west Jerusalem and ends at the Old City, but this year it will take place almost entirely in the eastern sector, in a move which police fear may spark clashes.

The march is expected to start at 4:00 pm (1300 GMT) in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, which has recently turned into a battleground between Jewish settlers determined to build in the heart of Palestinian areas, and left-wing protesters and Palestinian residents bent on stopping them.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state, but Israel, which annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community, lays claim to the entire city as its "eternal, indivisible capital."

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