“Their parents and grandparents were evicted 65 years ago, when Israel was created. Now they are coming back
Walaa Sbaid lives in IqritWalaa Sbaid, 26, says people currently have the legal right to return to Iqrit‘only in a coffin’.”
“This is Iqrit, a Palestinian Christian village in northern Galilee, whose inhabitants left in the bitter war that followed the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948, and who have never been permitted to return to their land and razed homes.
But in recent months, a group of young men, grandsons of Iqrit’s original residents, have moved back in an attempt to reclaim and rebuild the village.
And as Palestinians commemorate on Wednesday the Nakba, or catastrophe, of the loss of their land to Israel 65 years ago, work is being completed on a proposal for around 500 homes to be built on the site for the descendants of Iqrit’s inhabitants,90% of whom wish to return to the village. The plan is expected to be published in September.
What is unusual about this demand for the “right of return” is that the villagers and their descendants are Israeli citizens, mostly living in the area, rather than refugees in Palestine and in the diaspora.”
“The original villagers and their descendants – now around 1,500 people scattered across northern Israel – are allowed only to hold services in the church and bury their dead in the cemetery. “We are refugees inour own country,” said Nemi Ashkar of the Iqrit community association.
Last summer, around a dozen young men decided to take matters into their own hands. “At the moment Iqrit people have the right to return only in a coffin, but we want to live here,” said Walaa Sbait, 26, a schoolteacher in Haifa, 40 miles away.
The group planted young saplings and built a chicken coop, which Sbait said the Israeli authorities had demolished. “They are making the chickens refugees, too,” he said, adding that the two donkeys had also been threatenedwith eviction.