In 1948, during the creation of Israel, over 480 Palestinian villages were destroyed. One of these villages was known as Iqrit, a Palestinian Christian village in northern Galilee. For the past sixty-seven years, Iqrit has all but remained abandoned. Palestinians have never been legally permitted to live there, but they struggle against this restriction, believing in their right to return.
The Church of Our Lady is the only building to endure on the grounds of Iqrit amid rubble, overgrown grass and a makeshift shed. Palestinians, young and old, whose parents and grandparents lived in the village before 1948, are today trying to rebuild their lost community. They gather on the hilltop daily doing what they can to restore normal life. At least one person sleeps in the church every night to watch over the land. In response to this, Israeli authorities visit weekly to counter any developments made by the Palestinians: they uproot trees and crops, dismantle chicken coops, drive out livestock, and tear down structures of any kind. Yet, despite this constant interference, the Palestinians of Iqrit persevere.
The Palestinians of Iqrit are realizing a dream fundamental to all Palestinians – the dream to return home. They are living into the hope of a brighter future for their people. They do this by the simplest yet most profound act of resistance: existing.
By choosing to exist today on the land of their forebears, the Palestinians of Iqrit give hope to Palestinians living in exile throughout the world. One of these Palestinians is Shadia Sbait, Co-Founder and General Coordinator of the Iqrit Community Center. HCEF is honored to have Ms. Sbait speak at its 17th International Conference this Saturday, October 17 at the Washington Mariott Georgetown.
Ms. Sbait will be speaking on the panel, “Human Rights Violations in the Holy Land: Legal and Ethical Perspectives,” to share the story of Iqrit and educate conference participants on the worthy struggle again injustice to regain a home and restore a community.
Join us this weekend to hear Ms. Sbait along with over twenty speakers discuss the daily challenges faced by Palestinians and how you can join their efforts toward justice, peace, and coexistence.
For more information on the Conference, please click on any of the links below: