Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Thursday that despite the many threats Israel faces, it will continue to build up its “eternal capital” Jerusalem.
The comments came ahead of Jerusalem Day, an annual holiday celebrating the reunification of the city in the 1967 Six-Day War.
For the Jewish people, said Netanyahu, every day was Jerusalem Day.
“Citizens of Israel, on Jerusalem Day we again raise Jerusalem above our highest joy [Psalms 137:6]. However, the truth is that our people have done this day in, day out, year in, year out, for hundreds of years; ‘Next year in Jerusalem,'” he said.
“Indeed, we have returned to our country. By the middle of the nineteenth century there was already a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Of course, it took another 100 years until we established our state with Jerusalem as our official capital. It took another 19 years until that fateful day in 1967 when we liberated Jerusalem and reunited it. We reunited it. It broke new horizons. It became a city, a giant metropolis in Israel. We are building it up. We are building in it, and we are allowing all of its residents better lives in our eternal capital,” he continued.
Netanyahu stressed that Israel was committed to safeguarding the security of Jerusalem, to “ensuring its prosperity and to continuing its momentum,” despite “all of the threats around us,” he said. “Operation Shield and Arrow,” Israel’s five-day campaign against Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip last week, was just the most recent example of the constant threat Israel faces.
However, he continued, while ensuring the security of Jerusalem and Israel was a constant struggle, “together we can win.”
Jerusalem Day, he said, “is a splendid day on which to celebrate our return to our eternal capital, which has been our capital for over 3,000 years. There has been nothing like this in the world but it is here, in the center of our world, Jerusalem.”
Security preparations have been completed for Thursday’s annual flag march, with tens of thousands expected to descend upon the city for the day’s festivities. The march’s route passes through Damascus Gate and proceeds through the Old City to the Western Wall, but does not enter the adjacent Temple Mount. More than 2,000 police officers will be assigned to guard the march’s route through the Old City, and more than 1,000 security personnel will be on duty at other celebratory events in the Israeli capital.
Gaza terrorist groups have vowed to oppose any so-called “Israeli aggression” against the Al-Aqsa mosque or violation of the Israel-Hamas ceasefire reached in May 2021 following that month’s war (“Operation Guardian of the Walls”).
The May 2021 war was initiated by Hamas firing two rockets at Jerusalem as that year’s flag march was about to begin.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem is on track to become Israel’s first city with more than one million residents. A Central Bureau of Statistics report published on Wednesday shows that 984,500 people currently call Jerusalem home, with one in 10 Israelis residing in the Jewish state’s most populous city.
A total of 595,100, or 60.8%, of Jerusalem’s residents are Jewish or other non-Arab denominations, while 39.2% are Arabs. About 29% of the city’s residents—comprising half the city’s “Jewish and other” population—are haredi Jews. One out of every four haredi Jews in Israel lives in Jerusalem.
During 2022, the city’s population increased by 13,200 residents.