Hamas commander warns Israel over occupied East Jerusalem attacks

Hamas’s military wing leader Mohammed Deif warned Israel will pay heavy price if attacks against Sheikh Jarrah continue.

A Palestinian woman scuffles with an Israeli border police officer during a protest against the forced displacement of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
A Palestinian woman scuffles with an Israeli border police officer during a protest against the forced displacement of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The armed wing of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, has issued a warning to Israel over its attacks against Palestinian residents in occupied East Jerusalem, saying Israel will pay a “heavy price” for its actions.

“The Qassam Brigades will not stand idly by in the face of attacks on the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood,” Mohammed Deif, the brigades commander, said in a written statement on Tuesday night.

“They will pay a heavy price if the aggression against our people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood does not stop immediately,” he said, adding they are closely following developments.

Deif, who has been on Israel’s wanted list for years, praised the “steadfast people” in Sheikh Jarrah, who are facing imminent forced displacement from their homes.

The neighbourhood was raided by Israeli forces for the second night on Tuesday. The residents and solidarity protesters were sprayed with skunk water, a chemically enhanced type of sewage water, and were physically assaulted.

Several Palestinians were arrested, including Tala Obeid, Omar al-Khatib and Mahmoud Nabil al-Kurd, whose family faces displacement from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem. Al-Kurd along with another Palestinian was released on Wednesday morning, but the detention of al-Khatib, a local activist, has been extended.

Mustafa Barghouti, the head of the Palestinian National Initiative party, told Al Jazeera that what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah is a “process of ethnic cleansing”.

“This is a war crime against the [Palestinian] population of Jerusalem,” he said, speaking from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

“This act of ethnic cleansing is nothing but a reflection on the racist policies that Israel is following and the system of apartheid that is consolidated not only in Jerusalem but in the occupied Palestinian territories in general.”

He called on the international community to interfere and pressure Israel from ending its “systematic approach” of eliminating the Palestinian presence from the city.

On Monday, at least 20 Palestinians were injured in a brawl after Israeli police stormed a solidarity demonstration with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah.

The Israeli district court in East Jerusalem approved a decision to vacate six Palestinian families from their homes in May in favour of Israeli settlers. The same court ruled that another seven families in Sheikh Jarrah are to leave their homes by August 1.

Since 1956, a total of 37 Palestinian families have been living in 27 homes in the neighbourhood – including 28 refugee families who were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Jaffa and Haifa in 1948.

However, illegal Jewish settlers have been trying to push them out on the basis of a law approved by the Israeli parliament in 1970.

The Palestinians say they established their homes in 1956 under an agreement with the Jordanian government, which then had jurisdiction over the area, and the UN refugee agency UNRWA.

In the last few years, Palestinians have been forcibly displaced from three homes in the neighbourhood after Israeli court decisions.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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