The Hamas terrorist group in Gaza threatened Israel on Tuesday with tensions in East Jerusalem, as a number of Palestinian families are facing deportation as part of an ongoing effort by right-wing Israelis to take control of homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
In a rare public statement from Mohammed Deif, the elusive leader of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas warned that Israel would pay a “heavy price” if the deployments continued.
“I greet our steadfast Palestinians at Sheikh Jarrah in Occupied Jerusalem. The resistance leadership and al-Qassam are closely monitoring what is happening in the neighborhood, “said Deif.
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“This is our last warning; “If the aggression against our people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood does not stop immediately, we will not stand still and the occupation will pay a heavy price,”
Deif, one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing, has been wounded in several Israeli assassination attempts. One of his wives and two of his children were killed in an Israeli attempt on his life during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
Israel’s border with Gaza has been largely quiet in recent months following a ceasefire between Israel and the terrorist group; however, last week, dozens of rockets were fired at Israel after clashes in Jerusalem.
Deif’s threats came after two Palestinians were arrested and ten people injured in clashes in East Jerusalem on Monday night, according to Israeli police and the Palestinian Red Crescent.
According to police, Israeli police and border officers arrived “after a protest with dozens of protesters disturbing the peace,” saying protesters threw stones and bottles at security forces and blocked traffic.
Police said they gave protesters a “reasonable time” to leave the “illegal protest” before they dispersed the demonstration.
The Palestinians defied the order of dispersal and officers ended the demonstration using mounted police and smelly skunk water.
The Red Crescent said three of the injured were hospitalized.
Weekly demonstrations have been held for years in Sheikh Jarrah, with activists and Palestinian residents protesting against the deportation of some Palestinian families in favor of right-wing Jews.
According to the watchdog group Peace Now, Jewish plaintiffs are seeking to deport 58 more Palestinians. The Supreme Court is ready to announce a decision for four of these families on Thursday.
According to the left-wing non-profit organization Ir Amim, about 600 deportation files – including the homes of 75 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah – are currently being investigated by the Ministry of Justice.
East Jerusalem Palestinians and their allies accuse the law of discriminating against them, effectively allowing Jews to reclaim property in East Jerusalem, even though Palestinians have no ability to make demands in the city’s Western Jewish majority.
The deportations, when they take place, are often the result of legal battles that span years or even decades. The lawsuit is based on a 1950 law that allows the Israeli government to reclaim the property of Palestinians considered legally absent, as well as a 1970 law that provides a legal route for Jews to reclaim pre-1948 Jewish-owned property in East Jerusalem. .
Jewish prospective residents and their allies, such as the far-right Ateret Cohanim group, claim that they are legally expanding the Jewish presence in the capital of Israel.
Opponents of the Sheikh Jarrah evictions have regularly gathered in the neighborhood, including MK member Ofer Cassif, who is a joint list who was filmed and beaten by police last month. Police accused Cassif of first hitting the police officer and provoking the assault, although they have not released video evidence supporting the allegation.
And last month, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi gave the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah UN-certified documents to help prevent Israel from deporting the families of Sheikh Jarrah.
Jordan administered the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, until the Six-Day War in 1967 and remains the guardian of Muslim holy sites in the city. The kingdom says it built homes for Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem after the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.
The status of Jerusalem is one of the thinnest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the international community insisting that it be negotiated by the two sides. Israel considers 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.