The Hamas terrorist group in Gaza threatened Israel on Tuesday over tensions in East Jerusalem as a number of Palestinian families face displacement as part of ongoing efforts by right-wing Israelis to take control of homes in the Sheikh Jara district.
In a rare public statement by Mohammed Daif, the elusive leader of Hamas’s armed wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, Hamas warned that Israel would pay a “high price” if the evictions continued.
“I welcome our staunch Palestinians to Sheikh Jara in occupied Jerusalem. “The leadership of the resistance and Al Qassam are watching closely what is happening in the neighborhood,” Dafe said.
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“This is our last warning; If the aggression against our people in the Sheikh Jara district does not stop immediately, we will not remain indifferent and the occupation will pay a high price, “he warned.
Dafe, one of the founders of the military wing of Hamas, was wounded in several assassination attempts. One of his wives and two of his children were killed in an Israeli assassination attempt during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 in Gaza.
Israel’s border with Gaza has been largely quiet in recent months following a truce between Israel and the terrorist group; last week, however, dozens of rockets fired at Israel after clashes in Jerusalem.
Dafe’s threats come after the arrest of two Palestinians and the ten people injured in clashes in East Jerusalem on Monday night, Israeli police and the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Israeli police and border guards arrived “after a protest involving dozens of peace-breaking protesters,” according to police, who said protesters threw stones and bottles at security forces and blocked traffic.
Police said they had given protesters a “reasonable time” to leave the “illegal protest” before dispersing the demonstration.
The Palestinians opposed the order to disperse, and officers ended the demonstration with the help of mounted police and foul-smelling skunk water.
The Red Crescent said three of the wounded had been hospitalized.
Weekly demonstrations have been taking place in Sheikh Jara for years, with activists and Palestinians protesting against the eviction of some Palestinian families in favor of right-wing Jews.
According to the Peace Now monitoring group, Jewish plaintiffs are seeking to expel another 58 Palestinians. The Supreme Court is due to announce a ruling for four of those families on Thursday.
According to the non-profit left, Ir Amim, the Justice Ministry is currently examining about 600 eviction files – including the homes of 75 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jara.
Palestinians in East Jerusalem and their allies accuse the law of discriminating against them, effectively allowing Jews to regain property in East Jerusalem, even though Palestinians are unable to claim half of the city’s Jewish majority.
Expulsion, when it takes place, is often the result of legal battles lasting years or even decades. The lawsuit is based on a 1950 law that allows the Israeli government to return property to Palestinians who are considered legally absent, as well as a 1970 law that provides a legal way for Jews to regain property. of Jews in East Jerusalem before 1948
Alleged Jews and their allies, such as the far-right group Ateret Cohanim, say they are expanding the Jewish presence in the Israeli capital by legal means.
Opponents of Sheikh Jara’s eviction meet regularly in the neighborhood, including the MK Ofer Kasif Joint List, which was filmed being beaten by police last month. Police allege that Kasif first hit the police officer, provoking the attack, although he did not publish video evidence in support of the allegation.
And last month, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi gave Palestinian Authority in Ramallah UN-certified documents designed to help Israel avoid expelling families from Sheikh Jara.
Jordan ruled the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, until the Six Day War in 1967 and remained the guardian of the city’s Muslim holy sites. The kingdom says it has built homes for Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem since the founding of the Jewish state in 1948.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the most thorny issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the international community is pushing for it to be agreed by both sides. Israel views the entire city as its capital, while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their own future state.
Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.