Police Prevent Bid Young Israeli Arabs Try to Reclaim Sites of Villages Shut Down 25 Years Ago

A group of 25 young Israeli Arabs who sought to return to the sites of villages on the Lebanese border, from which their families were evacuated 25 years ago, by emulating tactics of Israeli Jews with an unauthorized settlement effort, were foiled today by police who set up blockades at the village entrances.

In 1948, Israeli security officials ordered evacuation of the village of Baram and later of Ikrit because they felt the villages were too close to the Lebanese border. The villagers, mostly Christian Maronites, were settled in other parts of northern Israel. Some waived their claims to their properties. For security reasons, the two villages were leveled, except for one church.

The young Arabs decided the time had come to return to those sites and followed Israeli tactics of setting up a stockade and a “tower” type of settlement. They brought tents and other equipment for residence which they planned to set up near the church. Police barred that effort too. Meanwhile the Greek Catholic Archbishop intervened to persuade the young Arabs to abandon the effort quietly. He said “I have a way of struggle through peaceful means.” He told the group that he and a Maronite Bishop from Lebanon, who makes an annual visit to Israel, would try to persuade Israeli authorities to permit resettlement of the former villages.

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