Friday, August 23, 2013

Palestinians defy ethnic cleansing with Galilee camp

From Electronic Intifada:

“This return is permanent” — refugees’ grandchildren defy Israel with Galilee camp

22 August 2013

Man picks up bar amid tents with Palestine flag and landscape in background
Iqrit village was depopulated and destroyed in 1951 but its youth vow to return.
(Ahmad Al-Bazz / ActiveStills)

Young people with family connections to Iqrit, an ethnically-cleansed village in the Galilee, assembled recently for a week-long “camp of return.”

According to organizers, more than 200 participants between eight and eighteen years old registered and attended the camp in Iqrit, which was destroyed by Israel’s military in 1951.

The village’s vibrant green hills — situated in the northern Galilee region of present-day Israel and hugging the boundary with Lebanon — are dotted with campers’ tents and the decaying rubble of demolished homes.

The “Camp of Return” has been held annually since 1996. For many years, its participants left Iqrit after only a week. Activists have, however, now decided to complement the annual camp with a constant presence in the village.

The camp was “a major success this year,” Nizar Ashkar, a 25-year-old Palestinian activist splitting his time between Jaffa and Iqrit, told The Electronic Intifada.

Over the past few years, campaigners have decided to take increasingly direct action towards realizing the right of return for Palestinian refugees and internally displaced Palestinians who were forced from their land and historic communities in present-day Israel.

In August 2012, approximately two dozen internally displaced youth from Iqrit, deciding Israel will never deliver justice on its own, took matters into their own hands and returned to their ancestral village.

According to Ashkar, “It was the first camp after the youth from the village decided to implement the right of return. It was a special camp in many ways, and so many people have learned about Iqrit in just a year.”

The camp was not limited to Iqrit’s refugees and their descendants: Palestinians from across present-day Israel, Jewish Israelis, and a handful of West Bank Palestinians who were able to obtain permits came to visit the camp throughout the week.

... continue reading at EI.

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