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A public swimming pool in Israel reportedly has separate timings for Jewish and Arab citizens. The issue was highlighted after children were refused to enter the facility – because they were Arabs.
The pool is located in the community settlement of Mabu'im in southern Israel and is operated by the Merhavim Regional Council. According to an employee, local Arab residents can use the pool only after 6 p.m. during weekdays.
However, other members are allowed to use the pool during the rest of the time. Several residents used the facility after giving a one-time payment but Adel Hamamdeh, a Palestinian, said he was denied entry into the pool altogether and an employee told him he could only enter after 6 p.m.
“They told me I couldn’t enter, that I could only enter after 6 P.M. because I am Bedouin,” he told Haaretz.
An employee then told him that entry was for members only, however, he observed people entering after paying a fee.
The employee added that the separation does occur and although it hasn’t been declared out loud but people who visit the swimming pool regularly are familiar with the conditions. The unnamed employee also said the practice was necessary because of the “difference in mentality” between Bedouins and Jews.
The policy came into effect after Jewish residents threatened to stop coming to the swimming pool if Arab residents were allowed to use it.
The district’s regional council confirmed the discriminatory practice and added they will ask those responsible for a clarification.
The Coalition against Racism also released a statement.
“Preventing Arab families from Rahat and Segev Shalom from entering the swimming pool in a community in the south is an unacceptable and unacceptable practice that is instituted in several entertainment venues in Israel. As long as it is not discovered because of attempts by operators and owners, it continues to happen even when it’s forbidden. We in the Coalition against Racism call on the Jewish and Arab public in Israel not to remain silent in the face of this phenomenon, but to expose it and bring it to an end because it is immoral as well as illegal,” read the statement.
Lawmaker Yousef Jabareen also criticized the measure and said separating people merely on the bases of their nationality is illegal and immoral.
“Anyone who invents justifications and cloaks this separation in claims of ‘cultural suitability’ will end up sinking into apartheid. I will appeal to the attorney general to open a criminal investigation against the owners and operators of the pool and against public places that separate Jews and Arabs. Such separation is against the law that prohibits discrimination in public services,” he said.
The pool has a history of discriminatory practices.
In 2013, the same swimming pool denied entry to Bedouin children with cancer to enter the pool because. In another incident, a Christian family from Israeli city Beersheba was not allowed to use the swimming pool after a manager told them the pool was only for local residents.
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