Page last updated at 08:19 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 09:19 UK

In pictures: Middle East village

Village of Iqrit

Iqrit was a village in northern Palestine before it fell to Israeli forces in the first Mid-East war in 1948. The inhabitants were evicted and their homes dynamited.

Villagers returning to Iqrit

Despite many setbacks, villagers and their descendants - who became Israeli citizens - have kept coming back for 60 years to Iqrit, and have managed to rebuild their church.

Villagers returning to Iqrit

Gatherings on Sundays and Israeli public holidays help keep the scattered Iqriti communtiy together, although officially they are trespassers on confiscated land.

Hassan Nasser

Hana Nasser, 70, comes almost every week. "I am here on the ruins of my house," he says. "I come here to sit. I will never forget my home."

Hassan Nasser

Mr Nasser points out the location of his house on a pre-1948 photograph hanging on a pillar in Iqrit's church, where services are held once a month.

Elias Haddad

Elias Haddad stands in Iqrit's only other permanent structure, the cemetery where the authorities have allowed villagers to bury their dead since the 1970s. His father is here.

Iqrit cemetary

The legal loophole means that people of Iqrit can return home permanently, but only when they die after a life of exile from their village.

Maruf Ashkar

Ironically perhaps, Iqrit is marked on Israeli maps as the site of archaeological remains or ruins. Old-timer Maruf Ashkar shows the road he used to walk along as a boy.

Israeli tourists in Iqrit

A group of holidaying Israelis also come to Iqrit, which has commanding views towards Lebanon. The son doing military service cannot enter the church with his weapon however.

Villagers returning to Iqrit

No visit would be complete without the ritual of passing around small cups of Arabic coffee and sticky sweets that are shared among new guests and old friends.

Villagers returning to Iqrit

The octogenerians of Iqrit are mostly brought by their children and grandchildren so they can sit for a few hours and reminisce about old times.




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