When US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Middle East last week, for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the senior diplomat had one clear stated goal: to restore ‘calm’ after several weeks of violence.
Speaking last Thursday, Kerry stressed the need to “defuse the situation”, and spoke of the need for “parties…to move to a de-escalation.” Other recent diplomatic efforts, and media reports, have used a similar kind of language.
It is unclear when exactly this ‘calm’ ended. Many start their timeline with October 1, while other chronologies begin in September, including the confrontations between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
So let’s go back instead to August, and examine what ‘calm’ looks like for Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. What follows is a (partial) snapshot of a typical month.
During August, 3 Palestinians were killed, all civilians, and a further 195 were injured, also all civilians and 35 of whom were children. During the same time period, there were no Israeli fatalities, and 20 Israelis were injured, of whom 9 were civilians.
In the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces conducted 254 raids on Palestinian communities – an average of eight per day, every day – and arrested some 380 Palestinians. Dozens had their detention extended, and 33 administrative detention orders were issued.
August also saw Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Allaan’s hunger-strike take him to death’s door, as he fell into a coma after refusing food for 65 days in protest at his detention without trial (Allaan’s detention was suspended, only for him to be later re-detained).
Israeli settlers carried out at least 18 attacks that led to either Palestinian casualties or damage to their property and land (or both), including an attack on a Palestinian vehicle, an assault on a Palestinian near Nablus, and arson attacks on Palestinian village land and a public park.
August also saw, in the words of the UN, “the highest number of Palestinian structures demolished by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) in a single month in five years.”
Israel demolished 145 structures in the OPT over the course of the month, displacing more than 200 Palestinians. 126 of those displaced were children. In one instance, Israeli forces “left 127 men, women and children without shelter in 42-degree-Celsius heat.”
Israeli occupation forces also destroyed a two-storey building in Jenin refugee camp during a ‘search and arrest’ raid, despite the fact that the “the wanted man was not present.” According to the UN, this was the 13th home destroyed by Israel in West Bank military operations since January 2014.
August also saw the resumption by Israeli authorities of construction of the Apartheid Wall in the Bethlehem governorate, as bulldozers tore up ancient olive trees and levelled land in Beit Jala.
August’s ‘calm’ in the West Bank meant Israeli occupation forces shooting a Palestinian at a checkpoint, Palestinian villagers having their water cut off, and unarmed protesters at weekly, anti-occupation demonstrations being shot with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets.
In East Jerusalem, five Palestinian-owned structures were demolished during August, including a three-story building under construction in Wadi al-Joz and two homes under construction in Jabal al-Mukabir. Israeli occupation forces also closed 3 of 4 entrances in Issawiya, and closed off a main street in al-Tur with cement blocks.
Israel detained 150 Palestinians in the city, including 70 minors. Israel frequently imposed restrictions on access to Al-Aqsa for Palestinian worshippers, while facilitating visits by right-wing Jewish activists. 37 Palestinians were banned from Al-Aqsa for periods ranging from 10-60 days.
In addition, at least 20 radical Jewish settlers moved into a 12-apartment building in Silwan, a development which “nearly doubled the number of Jewish settlers in the neighbourhood.”
In the Gaza Strip, Israel conducted 26 attacks, including shootings, 6 land incursions (such as this one), and arresting fishermen at sea. Palestinian casualties included a 14-year-old boy shot in the face with live ammunition east of Beit Hanoun. 4 policemen were injured in one of two airstrikes.
August also saw Israeli authorities revise the list of goods classified as “dual-use” (civilian and military) banned from entry into Gaza without special authorization – adding to the list “wooden boards thicker than 1cm (as opposed to 5cm previously).”
This is what ‘calm’ looks like for Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. This anatomy of apartheid for the month of August provides an insight into what Palestinians face day in and day out, and is essential context for what has subsequently unfolded.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.