“They open for their people and they close for mine,” said Samer Barusi, a 67-year-old Palestinian living near the route of the march, which he said showed how there was little difference between the new government and the one it replaced.
“It’s like the difference between Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola,” Mr. Barusi said.
Waving Israeli flags, marchers streamed past Damascus Gate, many of them chanting, “The nation of Israel is alive.” Some younger marchers could be heard shouting threats to Palestinians, including, “Death to Arabs!”
It was their right to be there, several marchers said in interviews.
“We are here for a simple reason: We are celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem,” said Eitan Meir, 32, a spokesman for Im Tirtzu, a group that helped organize the march. In 2013, an Israeli court ruled that the group’s ideology could be compared to certain aspects of fascism.
“Why should we allow a terrorist organization to dictate what we can do in our capital?” Mr. Meir added.
Yair Lapid, the government’s centrist new foreign minister, later said the government had been right to allow the march to take place, but condemned the marchers’ rhetoric. “It is incomprehensible how it is possible to hold the flag of Israel in hand and yell ‘Death to Arabs’ at the same time,” Mr. Lapid wrote. “That is not Judaism or Israelism, and that certainly isn’t what our flag represents.”
Before the march, the government sent conciliatory messages to Arab leaders inside Israel and to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Egypt, which frequently mediates between Israel and Hamas, making it clear that Israel was not looking for an escalation, officials said. New limits placed on the march included allowing only small, well-guarded groups of mostly teenage girls and women to pass through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.