2023 Digital Video Storytelling, Long Form, Large Newsroom finalist

One day in Hebron

About the Project

AJ+ Senior Presenter Dena Takruri travels to the Palestinian city where her father was born and raised to see what Israel’s military occupation has done to his beloved hometown.

When her father was a child, Hebron – one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank – was a bustling economic and cultural hub for Palestinians. But today, he doesn’t have the heart to go back. That’s because its Old City is now the epicenter of Israel’s settler movement and military control, which have converged to produce segregated streets, traumatized residents and a steady exodus of Palestinians. Twenty percent of Hebron, including the Old City and the holy sites, is under Israeli military control and has become a ghost town. Hundreds of Palestinian-owned businesses have been shuttered, people have had their front doors welded shut by the Israeli military, and the remaining Palestinian residents have to put up nets to protect themselves from the trash hurled at them by settlers.

In this documentary, Dena sets out to retrace her father’s footsteps and bear witness of the reality for herself. Since Palestinians are now banned from walking on certain streets, Dena is escorted by former Israeli soldiers who are now opposed to the occupation they once enforced. Together they interview a Palestinian man who lives with a military checkpoint at his front door, a woman whose daily life is marked by harassment from settlers, and a young girl, Salwa, who was recently arrested and interrogated by soldiers. Salwa tells Dena how sad it makes her to explain to her little brother why they can’t play outside for lack of safety. The two children have never known a different life.

On this deeply personal journey, Dena realizes that had her own father not emigrated in the 1960s, her life might not have been all that different from Salwa’s. And during an emotional FaceTime with her father back in San Francisco, Dena shows him the deserted streets where he spent his childhood and introduces him to the former soldiers who are working to oppose what they call blatant apartheid.

This documentary tells the story of a city being choked by religious nationalism and military occupation, and of its people – both those who remained and those who left.