Illegal Arab residents of Sheikh Jarrah preparing for ‘Great Evacuation,’ disappointed with Hamas

February 16, 2022 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
Read on for article

The Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in eastern Jerusalem is becoming a “fortified compound” following the establishment of MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s office.

Ahmed Tibi takes part in incitement in Jerusalem 13.2.2022 photo by Shalev Shalom TPS

Within a few weeks, there will be a big test ahead of the evacuation of the 13 Arab families living illegally in a compound in the neighbourhood, Kerem Ja’uni.

Eviction lawsuits are pending against the Sakafi, Ja’uni, Abu Hassana, and al-Kurd families.

Existential struggle

The Arabs of eastern Jerusalem, as well as nationalistic and Islamic organizations, have called on the Arabs of Jerusalem to mobilize indefinitely to “protect the residents” of the neighbourhood, understanding that if the evacuation of the Salem family can be prevented, an official order from the Israeli law enforcement authorities can be prevented from evacuating other families in the Ja’uni complex

Nabil al-Kurd, a member of the Sheikh Jarrah Residents’ Struggle Committee, who is also facing evacuation, says the evacuation of the Salem family is part of the Israeli effort to “Judaize the city and expel its residents.” The Jerusalem People’s Conference, a body working on behalf of the PLO, also stated that “these are acts of massacre and ethnic cleansing.”

Arabs of Jerusalem: “This is a religious conflict”

In eastern Jerusalem, it is estimated that if tensions spread to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it will not be possible to calm the situation. On Monday, Sheikh Akrama Tsabari, the head of the Supreme Muslim Council and a preacher in al-Aqsa, visited the neighbourhood and stated that this “is a war for the existence of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah.”

“Jerusalemites will continue to the garden their sanctuaries, their property and all their rights. We must not succumb to the greed and aggression of the occupation,” said the cleric who was one of the prominent spokesmen before the Operation Guardian of the Walls in May.

Disappointment from Palestinian Authority and Hamas

Over the weekend, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke with 85-year-old Fatma Salem, who is about to vacate her home, and assured her that the PA is by her side.

A few weeks ago, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya spoke with members of the al-Kurd, Sakafi and other families who are also facing evacuation, but residents in the neighbourhood and in eastern Jerusalem told TPS off-camera that “since the Guardian of the Walls, it has become clear that Hamas is also not working for us but for its political purposes and is exploiting the important issue to strike at the Palestinian Authority as part of the political struggle between the movements.”

The Palestinian Authority is now working to prevent the evacuation with the help of the international community. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the community to take action against the eviction, while the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it was continuing its activities with the International Court of Justice in The Hague and called on all Palestinian ambassadors to act in the countries where they are stationed.

However, there is a very difficult feeling in eastern Jerusalem due to the lack of Arab mobilization for them. In Jerusalem, people are now asking, “will Sheikh Jarrah be the straw that will break the camel’s back and return Jerusalem to the center of the Arab agenda and break the silence of Arab countries?”

Residents of the neighbourhood are torn between the desire to accept the compromise proposal and the fear that they will become traitors in the eyes of the Palestinian street.

Last October, residents of Sheikh Jarrah announced that they were unanimously rejecting the court’s proposal for a compromise that would leave them in their homes for many years to come. Behind the “unanimous” agreement was pressure from the Palestinian Authority and the various factions that demanded that the residents reject any compromise that would recognize Jewish ownership.

In the days before the compromise was postponed, the residents of the neighbourhood met with the PA Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and tried to persuade him to accept the compromise proposed by the court. One of the lawyers advising the residents was called to Palestinian intelligence in Ramallah and instructed not to advance any compromise agreement. Hamas and its various spokesmen also signalled to residents that they would not accept the compromise.

Activists in eastern Jerusalem held a series of meetings to reach an agreement on the proposed compromise.

“For 30 years we have been struggling, we have passed 70 judges including 22 Supreme Court judges and we lose time and time again due to the fact that the Jews managed to prove land ownership,” a public figure from eastern Jerusalem told TPS.

Threats from the Gaza Strip and Egyptian restraint efforts

Daoud Shahab, a senior member of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza, said Monday that “the resistance in Gaza is ready to enter into a new military confrontation at any moment if the crimes of occupation continue in Jerusalem and we do not accept the bullying of the settlers.”

But officials in the Gaza Strip told TPS that so far no decision has been made in Hamas’ military wing to resort to a renewed escalation against Israel in light of the events in Sheikh Jarrah.

The military wing of Hamas is closely following the events in eastern Jerusalem and the PA areas, and in its eyes, the escalation in the Palestinian Authority is a significant achievement that must be “preserved and developed” as the sources say, and therefore Hamas does not intend to move the centre of gravity to the Gaza Strip.

“The military arm continues its efforts to develop capabilities and defense and is not preparing for escalation and the opening of a new front,” they said. Another Hamas source said that the organization will operate out of “strategic considerations and not out of a storm of emotions “and also hinted that Hamas is not facing an escalation.

In recent months, Egyptian involvement in the Gaza Strip has increased significantly, especially since Operation Guardian of the Walls ended. Egypt has returned to lead the mediation role between Israel and Hamas and is operating a series of pressure levers on the organization’s leadership in the Gaza Strip. Egypt is waving efforts to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip, opening the Rafah crossing to a wide range of goods and residents, and recently representatives of nine Egyptian companies are expected to begin the rehabilitation process in the Strip. The Egyptians have promised to build three new cities in the Gaza Strip and these companies will offer 16,000 jobs to Gaza residents.

Hamas also understands that the 10,000 Gazan workers who go out to Israel and bring in money are a significant achievement that must be preserved, but in eastern Jerusalem, it is estimated that “if the fire spreads from Sheikh Jarrah to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the violence will not be stoppable and may cause Israel to stop the evacuation of families.”

Sheikh Jarrah – the symbol of the struggle for Jerusalem

Meanwhile, Sheikh Jarrah is gradually becoming a symbol of the Palestinian struggle for Jerusalem. A few weeks ago, during the violent events in the Negev, young Bedouin turned to Muna al-Kurd, the young resident of the neighbourhood, who took on the role of spokesperson and leader of the struggle on social networks and asked her for advice on how to act in light of Sheikh Jarrah’s lessons.

“You must see your struggle as an existential struggle and not an explanatory struggle,” al-Kurd told them.

In recent months, Muna al-Kurd has managed to bring about a significant involvement of consulates operating in eastern Jerusalem and has even been called to a number of official events, in which she heard words of sympathy from diplomats.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.