During the month of August, Iyad Hamad, a 38-year-old father, became the 220th Palestinian to be killed since a new phase of deadly violence began at the outset of October last year.
Hamad was shot dead by soldiers near a military pillbox outside the occupied West Bank village of Silwad, near Ramallah, on 26 August. The Israeli army admitted that Hamad was unarmed and posed no threat when he was slain.
Two days earlier, soldiers shot and killed 24-year-old Sari Abu Ghurab on a highway in the northern West Bank. The soldiers claimed that they had pursued a car from which rocks were being thrown at passing vehicles, hitting the windshield of a military jeep. The army said that when soldiers stopped the car, Abu Ghurab exited the vehicle and attempted to stab a soldier in the neck and was shot dead.
Photos from the scene, however, show Abu Ghurab’s body still seated in the car which he was driving, contradicting the army’s narrative that he had exited the vehicle before he was killed.
Another youth, 19-year-old Muhammad Abu Hashhash, was shot and fatally wounded during a massive raid on al-Fawwar refugee camp near the West Bank city of Hebron on 16 August. Fifty-two Palestinians were injured during the raid, more than half by live ammunition.
So far this year, 79 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. Ten Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during that same time.
Three persons wanted by the Palestinian Authority security services were killed in the northern West Bank city of Nablus during August. One of them, 50-year-old Ahmad Izzat Halawa, was beaten to death while in custody. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights described the incident as an “unlawful” act of “revenge” for the killing of two Palestinian security officers days prior.
Intensification of demolitions
Israeli forces intensified the destruction of Palestinian property and infrastructure in the West Bank during the month.
Four homes belonging to the families of Palestinians accused of attacking Israelis were destroyed during the month.
OCHA reported that as of 8 August, “Since the beginning of 2016 the Israeli authorities have demolished or sealed on punitive grounds 21 homes, displacing a total of 116 people, nearly the same as in the entire 2015.”
Dozens of Palestinian-owned structures were destroyed during the month under the pretext that they lacked building permits, which the Israeli occupation authorities rarely grant to Palestinians living in the 60 percent of the West Bank under full military control. Several of the structures had been provided as humanitarian assistance by international donors.
As of 8 August, Israel had destroyed or confiscated 200 humanitarian assistance items, almost double the figure for all of 2015, OCHA stated. The agency warned that such demolitions increase the “risk of forcible transfer, enhancing the coercive environment pushing the residents to leave.”
Israeli authorities also cut off a water pipeline used by 41 families in four Bedouin communities in the Jerusalem area, and two other communities received demolition and stop-work orders against homes, livelihood-related structures and a kindergarten, according to OCHA.
Israeli settlers killed nearly a dozen sheep belonging to a Palestinian Bedouin community near the West Bank city of Ramallah while a female herder was grazing the herd near the Rimonim settlement, and a 10-year-old Palestinian boy with disabilities was physically assaulted and injured by settlers in Hebron.
Most intensive Gaza strikes since 2014
Israel carried out dozens of airstrikes and fired tank shells across the Gaza Strip on 21 August, resulting in the injury of four Palestinians, including two civilians, one of them a child, according to OCHA.
“The attacks, which were the most intensive since the 26 August 2014 ceasefire, followed the firing of one projectile into southern Israel by a Palestinian armed group, which resulted in no injuries or damage,” OCHA stated.
Israeli forces fired on Palestinians in Gaza throughout the month, injuring a 17-year-old boy during a protest near the boundary with Israel, and disrupting the work of farmers and fishermen.
Rafah crossing, the sole point of exit and entry for Gaza’s nearly 1.9 million residents, was exceptionally opened for three days starting 30 August to allow approximately 2,000 Palestinians to travel to Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage.
“Since the beginning of 2016, the crossing has been partially opened for only 14 days,” OCHA reported. “Over 27,000 people are registered and waiting to cross, according to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza.”
Twelve Palestinians died as a result of the violence in Syria during August, according to the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria. Four of the slain were fighters, while three were killed during airstrikes and bombing, and two died in Syrian government prison. Two others were civilians who died by gunfire.