UN calls on Tel Aviv to immediately call off all forced evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces raid houses as Palestinians gather to stage a demonstration at Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem on May 06, 2021.
Israeli forces raid houses as Palestinians gather to stage a demonstration at Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem on May 06, 2021. (AA)

The United Nations has urged Israel to call off any forced evictions in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, warning that its actions could amount to "war crimes".

"We call on Israel to immediately call off all forced evictions," UN rights office spokesperson Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva on Friday.

"We wish to emphasise that East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which international humanitarian law applies," Colville said.

His comment came after 15 Palestinians were arrested in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem overnight in clashes with police over an eviction threat against four Palestinian families.

The second straight night of protests in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood was fuelled by a years-long land dispute between Palestinians and illegal Jewish settlers in the strategic district near Jerusalem's Old City.

Fresh tensions have been sparked by a long-running legal case over the homes of four Palestinian families on land claimed by Jews, which is due to go before the Supreme Court on Monday.

Israel asked to halt actions

"The occupying power ... cannot confiscate private property in occupied territory," he said, adding that transferring civilian populations into occupied territory was illegal under international law and "may amount to war crimes," Colville said.

Colville demanded that Israel halt actions that "further contribute to a coercive environment or leads to a risk of forcible transfer."

"We further call on Israel to respect freedom of expression on assembly, including with those who are protesting against the evictions, and to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force," he said.

READ MORE: Why are Jewish settlers ousting Palestinians in East Jerusalem?

Violent clashes

The latest clashes followed violence on Wednesday night, when 22 Palestinians were wounded, according to the Red Crescent. Israeli police said they had made 11 arrests.

Earlier this year, a Jerusalem district court ruled the homes legally belonged to the illegal Jewish settlers, citing purchases made when the whole of historic Palestine, including what is now Israel, was under British rule.

The Jewish plaintiffs claimed their families lost the land during the war that accompanied Israel's creation in 1948, a conflict that also saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes.

Israeli law allows Jews who can prove pre-1948 title to recover their properties.

It does not afford the same right to Palestinians.

READ MORE: Dozens of Palestinians face eviction threat from occupied Jerusalem homes

Crucial hearing on Monday 

Colville stressed that "Israel cannot impose its own set of laws in occupied territory, including East Jerusalem."

Israel seized East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move not recognised by most of the international community.

The district court ruling infuriated Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, who viewed it as a further step in what they see as a Jewish settler effort to drive Arabs out of East Jerusalem.

Israel's Supreme Court had called on the sides to seek a compromise, but when that failed it announced it would hold a new hearing on Monday, during which it is expected to rule on whether the Palestinians can appeal the district court decision.

An appeal process could take years.

READ MORE: The ICC's Israel investigation: A series of continuous crimes

Khamenei: Fight against Israel 'a public duty'

Meanwhile, Iran's Supreme Leader called on Muslim nations on Friday to keep fighting against Israel, which he said was not a state but a "terrorist garrison" against the Palestinians.

"The fight against this despotic regime is the fight against oppression and the fight against terrorism. And this is a public duty to fight against this regime," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech.

Khamenei was speaking on annual Quds Day, which uses the Arabic name for Jerusalem, held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"Muslim nations' cooperation on Quds (Jerusalem) is a nightmare for the Zionists," Khamenei said.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the Iranian government to cancel its annual Quds Day parade.

But Iranian state media showed footage of motorcyclists and vehicles flying Palestinian and Lebanese Hezbollah flags driving through Tehran streets.

They also published pictures of people burning Israeli and American flags.

READ MORE: Here’s how Israel hacked Iran’s nuclear facility

Turkey calls on Israel to halt illegal settlements

Meanwhile, Turkey called on Israel to abandon its policy of building illegal settlements in occupied Eastern Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's remarks came at a news conference with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al Maliki in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Ankara is ready to offer any support needed for elections to be held in Palestine in line with international standards, said Cavusoglu.

Maliki said Turkey surpasses all others in its support and called on the international community to press Israel to allow for Palestinian elections to be held in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian top diplomat arrived in Turkey on Friday, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which said the two would discuss ways to improve bilateral ties, along with recent developments in Palestine and Jerusalem.

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the postponement of elections until Israeli authorities permit holding the polls in occupied Eastern Jerusalem.

The parliamentary polls were expected to be held on May 22 and presidential polls on July 31, while the Palestinian national council elections would have been on August 31.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies