Akka was first founded by the Canaanites in 3000 BC. deriving its name from the word “Akkaw” meaning “hot sand”. Possibly the third oldest city in the world, the people of Akka are on an ongoing mission to preserve its Palestinian identity in the face of an apartheid occupation that seeks to undermine it.
The coastal plain and city of Akka has historically been a fortified naval base and gateway between the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Surrounded by sea walls built in the 7th Century by the Ummayad empire, Akka was exploited by subsequent empires as their most treasured fortified outpost in the Levant region, including the conquest of European Crusaders in the 12th century, followed by the Abbuyid Calophate, the Mamluks, the Ottomons, and eventually the British Emprie. The recurring experience of invasion by an outside occupier made the indigenous Palestinians of Akka incredibly resilient, and also nurtured a multicultural and diverse heritage signified especially by Akka’s diversity of religious communities, including Muslims, Druze, Christians, Jews and notably the Baháʼí faith, of which Akka is a pilgrimage site.
Despite the city being considered part of the Arab-majority state proposed in the 1947 Partition Plan, the vast majority of Akka’s indigenous Palestinian residents were expelled from Akka during the 1948 Nakba. The exception were those Palestinians that managed to tuck themselves away behind the walls of the old city of Akka. Until this day, with the exception of Nazareth, Akka is the only historic Palestinian city in the occupied territories where Palestinian buildings, cultural, religious and historic sites largely intact as a result of these Palestinian residents’ tireless efforts.