JERUSALEM, Israel – The day after U.S. President Donald Trump ended his 30-hour visit to Israel, the nation began its annual Jerusalem Day celebration, this year marking 50 years since the capital was reunited under Israeli sovereignty.
"Hundreds of police officers, border police and special patrol units were deployed to secure the events and celebrations," the Israel Police said in a statement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began the day's festivities at a special Knesset session, where he declared the Temple Mount and Western Wall will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty.
"To you, the members of the Knesset, the citizens of Israel, and to the entire world, I want to make it clear: The Temple Mount and the Western Wall will forever stay under Israel's sovereignty," he said. "There are those who see the Six-Day War as a disaster for Israel. I see it as a miracle and a salvation for Israel."
Earlier this month, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), passed a resolution labeling Israel an "occupying power" in Jerusalem. UNESCO passed a similar resolution about a year ago designating the Western Wall and Temple Mount "Muslim holy sites" in an attempt to sever Jewish ties to its ancient land.
During the 19-year Jordanian occupation, from 1948 to 1967, barbed wire fences crisscrossed the city dividing neighborhoods and neighbors. Today, Jerusalem continues to be built up as the light rail is extended to outlying neighborhoods and new residential housing flourishes citywide, as it is written...
"The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel." (Psalm 147:2)
In late morning, Netanyahu attended the annual state ceremony at Mt. Herzl honoring some 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who died trekking through the desert trying to reach eretz Yisrael – the Land of Israel.
In the afternoon, the prime minister attended the dedication of the Six-Day War Museum at Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill.
This evening, he will address a Jerusalem Day ceremony at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, where in March 2008, two Arab terrorists infiltrated the school and opened fire on students studying in the library, killing eight and wounding nine others.
"We bless the [Jerusalem] operation," a Hamas official said at the time, vowing "It will not be the last."
During his visit, President Trump called Hamas, the Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip, a terror organization. Hamas called the president's remarks "racist."
"This American policy, which is fully biased in favor of the Zionist entity, will encourage the occupation to commit more crimes and violations against our people and its holy places," the Israeli daily YNet reported.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and his wife are hosting a dramatic presentation of the history of Jerusalem.
Thousands are participating in the colorful Flag Dance Parade, which began around 4 pm Israeli time and winds up at the Western Wall.
The day's festivities culminate at a closing ceremony on Ammunition Hill attended by dozens of government officials, among them Mayor Barkat, President Reuven Rivlin, and IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eisenkot.