But Palestinians, who seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, see the march as a provocation. Last year, the parade helped spark an 11-day war between Israel and militants in Gaza.
Ahead of the march, some 1,800 Jewish pilgrims visited the disputed hilltop compound where the Al Aqsa Mosque is located, according to Israel Police.
Al Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam and serves as a powerful symbol for Palestinians. The complex is also the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount and revere it as the home of biblical temples. Competing claims to the site are at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have sparked numerous waves of violence.
Dozens of Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the mosque early Sunday and began throwing objects and fireworks as Jewish visitors began arriving.
Among the visitors was Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of a small ultra-nationalist opposition party and supporter of the late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, who entered with dozens of supporters under heavy police surveillance.
The Palestinians shouted “God is great” as Ben-Gvir, accompanied by Israeli police, shouted “the Jewish people live”. Police said they locked the doors of the mosque and said they made several arrests. No injuries were reported.
Without explanation, Israeli police took the rare step of barring Palestinian journalists, including an Associated Press photographer, from entering the compound.
Police also said dozens of visitors to one of the Jewish groups “violated visiting rules”. He said the group was kicked out and some people were arrested.
The police statement does not provide further details. But under longstanding arrangements known as the “status quo”, Jewish visitors to the compound are not allowed to pray. In recent years, however, the number of Jewish visitors has increased dramatically, including some who have been spotted praying quietly.
Such scenes have made Palestinians fear that Israel is plotting to take over or divide the region. Israel denies these claims, saying it remains committed to the status quo.
Israel National Police chief Kobi Shabtai said his forces were prepared for “all scenarios” and took “immediate and professional” action when needed.
“We will not allow any instigators or rioters to sabotage today’s events and disrupt law and order,” he said. By noon, the visits had temporarily ceased and the situation had calmed down.
Jordan condemned Ben-Gvir’s visit to the site and warned that the “provocative and growing march” could make matters worse. Jordan controlled East Jerusalem until Israel captured it in 1967 and it remains the guardian of Muslim holy sites.
Sunday’s march comes at a time of heightened tensions. Israeli police have repeatedly clashed with stone-throwing Palestinian protesters at the disputed compound in recent months, often firing rubber bullets and stun grenades.
Meanwhile, some 19 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian attackers in Israel and the occupied West Bank in recent weeks, while more than 35 Palestinians have been killed during Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank. Many of those killed were Palestinian militants, but several civilians were also among the dead, including Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known correspondent for the Al Jazeera satellite channel.
Jerusalem police have come under international criticism for beating mourners at Abu Akleh’s funeral two weeks ago.