Two weeks ago in Old Hebron, a once-bustling Palestinian city in the West Bank, I saw a ghost town. The streets were empty except for dozens of Israeli soldiers, on patrol with automatic weapons and flak vests, and a handful of young Israelis from illegal settlements. The occasional Israeli military vehicle rolled by slowly, towering over us.
I was in Palestine with a group of mostly black and brown activists and lawyers from across the United States. We were on a one-week “Justice Delegation,” organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Eye Witness Palestine, to see with our own eyes the dire human rights situation 70 years after the founding of Israel, what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” when up to one million Palestinians were expelled from their homes. Since March 30, thousands of Palestinians have demonstrated in Gaza to demand their right of return, with Israel killing at least 108 and wounding more than 10,000 since the mobilizations began.
As Gazans risked their lives to protest, what we saw across Israel and the West Bank was an ongoing Nakba.