Hamas Military Leader Warns Israel Will Pay if Jerusalem Evictions Carried Out

Jack Khoury
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A protester waves a Palestinian flag in Sheikh Jarrah, last month.
A protester waves a Palestinian flag in Sheikh Jarrah, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Jack Khoury

The leader of Hamas' military wing, Mohammed Deif, warned Israel on Tuesday that the group was closely watching developments in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, saying Israel would pay a heavy price if "the aggression doesn't stop."

"The military wing will not sit by, and it will respond," Deif said. 

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A large demonstration was held on Monday night in Sheikh Jarrah, amid concerns that Israeli settlers will move into homes in the neighborhood, after several Palestinian families are facing eviction recently suffered legal defeats.

On Tuesday night, police forces dispersed dozens of protesters in the east Jerusalem neighborhood, a police statement said. The protesters hurled rocks and fire bombs at the forces and three suspects were arrested for civil disturbance, according to the police.

Sheikh JarrahCredit: Oren Ziv

Weekly demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah have been happening for about a decade. Dozens of Palestinian residents of the neighborhood have faced potential eviction for years, amid intensified efforts from right-wing settler groups that assert the land was owned by Jews before 1948, when Israel was founded.

On Saturday, demonstrations against the planned evictions drew protesters from Umm al-Fahm and other predominantly Muslim Israeli cities. On Monday, hundreds of Muslims heeded calls to protest in Sheikh Jarrah after the Ramadan prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

On Monday, a Supreme Court hearing was held to request the right to appeal the evictions, submitted by four families from Sheikh Jarrah. Justice Daphne Barak-Erez pressured the parties to reach an agreement similar to one reached between residents and right-wing organizations in the 1980s. That agreement included Palestinian recognition of Jewish ownership of the homes, in return for recognition of the Palestinian residents as protected tenants who could not be evicted until they died.

The current arrangement under discussion was expected to include similar components, and would have delayed the evictions but strengthened the Jewish position in the neighborhood in the long term. Barak-Erez told the parties to try to come to an agreement by Thursday, but discussions by the lawyers for the two sides made no progress and there apparently will be no agreement. On Thursday, therefore, Barak-Erez is set to decide whether to allow the Palestinian families to appeal the decision by the district court to evict them.

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