ISRAELI participants in a nationalist march through a Palestinian area of Jerusalem chanted “Death to Arabs” on Wednesday, stoking already surging tensions as Israel’s offensive in Gaza continues.

Thousands of Israelis, including many ultranationalists, were taking part in the “Jerusalem Day” march.

The annual event marks Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 Middle East war.

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The marchers also chanted anti-Islamic slogans outside the Damascus Gate, a central gathering place for Palestinians in east Jerusalem.

The march in the past has helped fuel violence, including helping to set off an 11-day war with Hamas three years ago.

Palestinians view the annual march as provocative.

Just before the march began, crowds scuffled with police and threw plastic bottles at a Palestinian journalist wearing a Press vest.

Reports have also emerged of an Israeli journalist being knocked to the ground and kicked until Border Police intervened.

It comes as the Israeli military said it has started “operational activity” in two areas of central Gaza in a possible broadening of its ground offensive against Hamas.

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The military said its forces are operating “both above and below ground” in eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and Bureij, a built-up Palestinian refugee camp dating back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

It said the operation began with air strikes on militant infrastructure, after which troops began a “targeted daylight operation” in both areas.

The most recent death toll stands at more than 36,000 people killed, as Gaza’s Health Ministry said 36 people were killed and 115 injured in the latest 24-hour reporting period.

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) has warned that if the current escalation of conflict continues unabated, more than one million Palestinians in Gaza could suffer the highest level of starvation by mid-July.

The National:

This would be an increase from 677,000 people who were believed to be experiencing famine-level conditions in March.

International mediators are waiting for Israel and Hamas to respond to a new ceasefire and hostage release proposal, according to Qatar, which has played a key role in negotiations alongside Egypt and the United States.

Announcing the proposal last week, US President Joe Biden said the three-phase plan was Israeli.

However, Israeli leaders have since appeared to distance themselves from the proposal and vowed to keep fighting Hamas until the group is destroyed.