It's Getting Hot / by Sophie Schor

 Police sitting in the shade of their umbrella overlooking Isawiyya.  

Police sitting in the shade of their umbrella overlooking Isawiyya.  

April 28, 2015

Yesterday, an 18 year old was shot in the stomach by the IDF in Jenin. He died this morning due to complications. He is the third Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in recent days; a 17 year old was killed in East Jerusalem on Saturday for allegedly running at Israeli police "wielding a knife," at a checkpoint, and another Palestinian man was shot dead in Hebron on Sunday after he tried stabbing an Israeli soldier.

A-Tur, a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and the home of the 17 year old who was killed at the checkpoint, was put under curfew. There have been sporadic clashes there since the shooting on Saturday, his funeral was last night.  

Last night 2 more people were arrested in Isawiyya, the Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem that sits opposite my classrooms at university. The entire place was barricaded with concrete blocks. This morning as I walked to class I noticed the police had not only roped off the area at the top of the hill, but they had propped up an umbrella to sit under to stay cool.

Temperatures are also hitting a crazy and sudden high—we went from pleasant spring directly into summer with no easing into it. Tomorrow is supposed to be over 90 degrees (30C)—a hamsin, desert heat storm, is landing on our doorstep.

I can’t help but remember a conversation I had with my roommate. It was November, and it was raining in Jerusalem. It was the first rain of the season; the streets were flooding and it was torrential downpour for days. I had never seen that much constant rain before.

October and November had been particularly tense times in Jerusalem. There were almost daily outbursts in the Old City over policies to limit access to al-Aqsa mosque. There were several intentional accidents where people were run over and killed by cars. There were reports of random stabbings at train stations and bus stops. There was a brutal attack on a synagogue. The city was rippling with tension.

My roommate and I were on our way to university and walking through the puddles, pretending as if the umbrella we had was actually preventing water from falling on our heads.

“I like it when it rains,” she remarked off-handedly. “The attacks stop.”

And stop they did—at least in our comfortable disillusionment in the Jewish side of Western Jerusalem. Things quieted down, people were lulled again into a false sense of calm.

Here comes the warm weather again, and clashes and protests against the occupation are rising to the surface again. I can’t help but think about a scientific study I heard of that showed the relationship between high temperatures and violence. Solomon Hsiang published a resounding study in 2013 that analyzed the relation between hot weather and conflict.  “For every standard deviation of change,” explains The Scientist magazine, “levels of interpersonal violence, such as domestic violence or rape, rise by some 4 percent, while the frequency of intergroup conflict, from riots to civil wars, rise by 14 percent.” The hotter it is, the more likely violence is. 

And here we are. In the middle of a hamsin. The beginning of summer breaking out. I can’t help but hold my breath.

There are two important demonstrations happening tomorrow, organized by the activists of Free Jerusalem including a protest against the collective punishment in A-Tur. They will meet at 8:30 at the entrance to Mt. Scopus Campus of Hebrew University.

And there is another march to show solidarity with Gaza youth against the siege, tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in front of the Prime Minister's house.

 Things are heating up here.


*See: Hsiang, Solomon M., Marshall Burke, and Edward, Miguel. 2013. "Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict." Science, 10.1126/science.1235367.