May 14, 2018 – Below is a statement of human rights defenders, known as the #JusticeDelegation, after returning from a visit to Palestine and Israel co-organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Interfaith Peace-Builders.
We, a group of U.S.-based human rights defenders known as the #JusticeDelegation, call on our communities, our allies, our representatives, and the international community to hold Israel accountable for its violent response to Palestinians’ call and march for freedom. We are outraged by the Trump administration’s licensing and enabling of illegal Israeli policies that only serve to escalate the conflict, including today’s moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem a day before the 70th anniversary of the Nakba.
We are human rights defenders, lawyers and social justice advocates from various movements (including the Movement for Black Lives and indigenous communities at Standing Rock) across the United States who traveled to Palestine to witness first-hand the reality of Palestinians living under brutal military occupation and facing institutional discrimination within Israel.
Traveling throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, we met with prominent Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, community leaders, internally displaced, African refugees and asylum seekers, affected families, journalists, dissenters, United Nations officials, and members of legal, business, artistic, and faith communities.
We repeatedly witnessed the impact of settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing on Palestinian communities through blatantly obtrusive policies, like the illegally constructed wall separating communities and families from each other, and the slow but systematic emptying of land and homes of their Palestinian residents. We also witnessed the structural racism and apartheid in land and housing policies against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
We saw the devastating impact of the 1948 Nakba, or the catastrophe, in which more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homeland and denied return to their homes in over 450 villages and cities, which were destroyed or thus inhabited by Jewish immigrants.
Today, Palestinians in Gaza will mark the culmination of their six-week Great March of Return to remember the Nakba. Thousands of Palestinians will march to demand freedom and recognition of their right of return. In Gaza, where the majority of the population is refugees, Palestinians are also marching to demand an end to Israel’s cruel and inhuman siege of the Gaza Strip. Over the past weeks, thousands of peaceful Palestinian protestors have been met with the use of live fire in clear violation of international law, resulting in the death of over 50 people, and maiming and injuring hundreds including children, journalists, and persons with disabilities.
The Palestinian condition is one of ongoing Nakba, and we have been humbled by the resilience of the Palestinian people over the past 70 years.
As members of movements that continue to experience structural racism, persecution and targeted eradication by our government, we stand with Palestinians living both in their homeland and all over the world in their struggle against settler colonialism, occupation, apartheid, racism, and ethnic cleansing. We call on the Israeli government to immediately end its illegal use of deadly force and violent crackdown on peaceful protesters and abide by international law protecting rights to life, peaceful assembly, and freedom of movement. Israeli officials who ordered unlawful lethal force should be subject to prosecution abroad as a matter of universal jurisdiction or in the International Criminal Court. Additionally, we call on the Israeli government to end the illegal blockade of Gaza and abide by international law prohibiting collective punishment, settlement construction, and forced displacement. We call on people of good will all over the world to stand in solidarity with Palestinians, and demand that the state of Israel call for its military forces to stand down, ceasing the violent response to unarmed protestors.