Reappropriating an Abandoned Village in Galilee: A Territorial “Grab” as a Form of Protest

Occupation Movements
By Sylvaine Bulle

This article examines the reappropriation of an abandoned village in Upper Galilee (Northern Israel) since 2013 by a group of young Israeli Arabs, descendants of the third generation of Palestinian refugees, thereby transforming the space. This irregular collective action is a form of activism consisting of discreetly occupying contested places, such as a village destroyed during the war of 1948, without seeking any political visibility. It highlights an aspect of a discreet struggle against instituted totalities such as the Israeli State and its political frame. The first aspect of the analysis concerns the resentment of young Palestinians—descendants of refugees—towards national policies. The second aspect concerns the style of the spatial contestation, analyzed pragmatically here, and valorizing the living environments. Finally, the political scope of the collective action of the reappropriation of a territory is examined, insofar as it puts the State of Israel to the test, with regard not only to a denunciation of the national level model, but also in terms of how it aims to break away from it. It interrogates the hypothesis of autonomy or secession in such a project, embodied in a defined territory, referring to the discourses and practices of the occupiers.

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