An undercover journalist has secretly filmed a clerk at a sports facility in Israel apparently implying its "locals-only policy" is to keep out Bedouin Arabs.
Palestinian teacher Tahir Marisat was refused entry to the Beersheba Country Club on Tuesday after being informed it was for the use of local residents only.
Though Marisat is indeed a local resident, having lived in the city for 11 years, he is originally from the town of Tamra in the north of the country, which is still listed as his out-of-date address on his identity card, the Electronic Intifada reported.
He told Israeli news channel Maariv: “We just wanted to go to the pool. The clerk said [we couldn’t] because they did not let anyone who was not a Beersheba resident into the facility.
“But I personally know people who have gotten in, even on that very day (Tuesday), who were not Beersheba residents. I suggested to the clerk that we ask a few random people in the facility if they were residents and she declined.”
Upon being turned away, the 32-year-old contacted Israel’s Channel 10 morning talk show, which sent an undercover reporter to the club.
The Jewish reporter was immediately admitted, despite informing the cashier he was not a Beersheba resident and asking whether this was a problem.
Secretly filmed footage of the exchange (above), as translated by +972 mag, reveals the cashier explaining that the rules “Are for certain populations, not for you.”
When the reporter responds with the question: “Ah, so a lot of Bedouin come here?”, she replies “yes”.
Marisat told the Times of Israel: “It hurts that we still see such prejudice towards Arabs in Israeli society.
“Unfortunately, racism towards Israeli Arabs has increased in recent years.”
The club itself has denied it has a policy to exclude local Bedouin, telling the newspaper it has "clear rules for entry. Any resident of Beersheba and nearby towns, without regard to sector or ethnicity, may purchase an annual subscription."
It said the decision to let in the reporter - who admitted not being a resident - was "a violation of our rules".
The incident follows earlier recent accusations of racism and segregation between Israelis and Arabs.
In May a Tel Aviv amusement park came under fire after an Arab secondary school teacher was refused a booking for his students – but given the reservation when he called back using a Hebrew name.
Khaled Shakra told Israeli Army Radio: “I have never been so humiliated.”
In a statement released to Haaretz newspaper, the Superland amusement park said it had received requests “from Jewish and Arab schools alike to conduct these events on separate days.”
It added: “These requests are due to the fact that at issue are high school and junior high school pupils, coming for end-of-year group events, that are liable to lead to tension and violence between the different groups of pupils from the different sectors. This is an amusement park and there is special importance to preserving order and preventing violent incidents in the park.”
It later announced it would reconsider its policy.
And on 1 June, it was reported a number of Bedouin children with cancer had been refused entry into a community swimming pool in a southern Israel town.
Citing a report on Channel 2, +972mag reports the children were denied entry at the pool because “although the families… do not have an issue with Bedouin children, they indeed have a problem with ‘the sector’ (a term commonly used to describe the whole of the Arab community in Israel).”
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