Israel, Hamas ‘not interested’ in clash over Sheikh Jarrah - report

Egyptian mediators are at the center of the prevention of another eruption in the east Jerusalem neighborhood, balancing the claims of Israelis and Hamas.

 Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces in Sheikh Jarrah (photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces in Sheikh Jarrah
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)

Israel and Hamas have notified Egypt that they are “not interested in escalation and entering into a military confrontation despite the rising tensions in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah,” Egyptian sources have said.

Israeli security officials who communicated with their Egyptian counterparts emphasized that the Jewish state was dealing with the situation in Sheikh Jarrah with utmost caution and responsibility to prevent an escalation, the sources told the Palestinian daily Al-Quds.

According to the unnamed sources, Israel assured the Egyptians that it will not allow the situation to return to what it was before, and therefore it was working to control it by beefing up security measures, including “preventing settlers from reaching the neighborhood and attacking Palestinians.”

Israeli security officials affirmed that Israel is keen on preserving the state of calm on various fronts and will not allow any of the Knesset members or others to fan the flames again in Sheikh Jarrah, the sources indicated.

Hamas, for its part, assured the Egyptians that it remains committed to the state of calm and is not interested in an escalation, the sources said.

 Israeli border police officers guard during riots in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, February 13, 2022.  (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90) Israeli border police officers guard during riots in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, February 13, 2022. (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

Hamas, however, warned that in the event Israel “persists in its aggression, and the scope of events in Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem expands, the [Gaza-based] resistance factions will consider their options,” including resuming demonstrations and “night confusion protests” near the border with Israel.

The Egyptian sources said the Hamas leadership stressed that despite its unwillingness to enter into a military confrontation with Israel, the military wings of the armed groups in the Gaza Strip will be “on constant alert to protect and defend their people as they did in the battle of Saif al-Quds (Sword of Jerusalem),” referring to the May 2021 Israel-Hamas war, which erupted after the terrorist group fired rockets at Israel in response to plans to evict Arab families from the east Jerusalem neighborhood.

The Hamas leadership reportedly warned that a decision on whether to escalate tensions with Israel would depend on developments on the ground and the recurrence of Israeli “assaults” on the Palestinians.

The sources pointed out that Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, whose heads have been acting as mediators between the two enemies, is seeking to preserve the period of calm that has prevailed since last year’s war.