A sign in front of an Afula park says the area is open to local residents only.
(photo credit: ADALAH WEBSITE)
A legal team will present a case before the Nazareth District Court on Sunday calling on the Afula municipality to cancel its ban on non-city residents entering city parks.
“We know that this policy is intended to prevent the entry of residents from Arab communities near the city,” Adalah, whose legal team is arguing the case, said in a statement.
Adalah, which means “justice” in Arabic, is the first non-profit, non-sectarian Palestinian-run legal center in Israel.
According to the organization, Afula erected this ban with racist motives.
On the first day of summer vacation, when the ban came into force, attorney Nariman Shehada Zoabi visited an Afula city park with her infant, Adalah said in a release. She was greeted at the entrance with a sign that read, “The park is open ... to the residents of Afula only.” When the gatekeeper learned that Zoabi and her son were residents of the neighboring city of Nazareth, he forbade her from entering.
Zoabi said she felt “humiliated,” according to a release. “Jewish residents passed by me, who freely entered this vast park that I know very well, while I had to trace my steps and return to my car.”
Two different TV stations performed undercover work and documented Jews - non-residents of Afula - entering the park unbridled, even after telling the gatekeepers that they were not residents.
The move comes only a month after Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz made statements regarding what he called “the takeover of our parks,” which Adalah representatives believe was intended to imply that too many Arabs were in Afula’s parks. The mayor has also said that an Israeli flag should be flown proudly throughout the local park system and Hebrew music should be played. In the past, Elkabetz took part in demonstrations against the sale of homes in the city to Arabs.
The Afula municipality was not available for comment at the time of this writing. This is a developing story.
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